Of the discontinued cards from Unlimited, Illusionary Mask is the one I've found myself with the most copies of over the years. Well, second most. It's kinda hard to dethrone Chaos Orb from that particular number one spot, but the Mask sure makes a run for it. I've given away a couple of Masks to n00bcon riddle masters, and I have some memories of trades in the past, but I'm still somehow sitting on six copies of the card. The first four makes sense I guess, playset and all that. The fifth is arguably needed for my Unlimited coffee table book. That second Unlimited copy is a bit harder to excuse, but I guess I bought a Faceless Menace EDH precon at some point in the before time, and mise well have the sweetest face-down tech available if I'm to swing modern megamorphs.

The mask obscures everything but ante.

I just really like the card. It was the only discontinued rare that anyone in any of my playgroups had access to in 1995, and its mere presence made Jester's Mask a bit of a joke among us. "That's not the real mask". But considering how many copies I've had access to over the last decade or so, I've sadly barely played the card. I've cast it in Suicide Blue, and had some shenanigans going on in Alpha-only. And I guess it has seen some play in fully casual builds in more modern settings. But I feel my copies have been much underplayed up until now, when I finally got the chance to sleeve them up for some more fierce games in The Reindeer's Scryings Double Elimination tournament. The tournament is currently in progress (and I'm still live), but let's take a look at the deck regardless. It is a sweet pile and its been a while since our last deck tech here.

Magic anno 2021.

Scryings introduces two cards that move the Mask from cute to scary. One is the old Vintage tech that is Phyrexian Dreadnought, and the other is its less attractive cousin Lord of Tresserhorn.

Phyrexian Dreadnought is a 12/12 trampler for 1 that forces you to sacrifice creatures with power twelve or greater when it comes into play. The Lord is a 10/4 regenerator for 1UBR that shocks your life total, forces you to sacrifice creatures, and has the opponent draw cards when it comes into play. But playing them under the Mask removes all the "enter the battlefield" abilities, as they are face-down cards with no abilities when they actually land on the board. So with the Mask we basically end up with under-costed huge threats with relevant abilities. These are our main win conditions.

Mask package

Playing four Dreadnoughts is pretty much a given, but the number for the Lord is a bit more sketchy. I think two is correct, but it could very well be between zero and three, depending on how controlling you're feeling.

Control package

I went for a basic control package with only the proved elite for the job. It is possible that a maindeck Blue Elemental Blast or some sort of utility creatures (like Dwarven Miner) could pull some weight here as well if we want more midgame action. With the Lat-Nam's Legacies, it is also highly possible that one or a few strong sideboard cards could be played maindeck (e.g. Tormod's Crypt).

Card selection package

I'm getting more and more satisfied with Lat-Nam's Legacy as a Magic card. It feels like just the right power level as solid blue card selection goes. Impulse is probably to powerful (and Portent clearly so), but Lat-Nam's Legacy is not a card you'd want to jam a playset into every deck that can cast it. Here you really want four though; we are sculpting our hand for combo shenaningans and keeping mana up to cast Legacy isn't that much of a drawback when you have counterspells. Waiting a turn to get the cards is of course a weakness most of the time, but there are scenarios (involving cards like Balance, Timetwister and Pox) where the wait is actually a positive.

Browse started as one, got upped to two, and then to three. It is both the most expensive card to cast in the deck and the most mana-hungry to use, but if you have to play a more controlling style against stuff like Goblin Tinkerer, there is no better lategame card for the deck. It also really helps you find a second go with the combo if the first attempts are countered. Four is probably overkill, but I'd always want to draw one when going into lategame.

Sweet one-offs package.

The Scryings Double Elimination tournament follows what is known as "Gentlemen's Monocles rules", which means that Library of Alexandria, Mind Twist and Ancestral Recall are banned. Finding a good replacement for Ancestral was hard, but in the end I settled on Sol'Kanar the Swamp King. Ancestral is after all basically a wincon, so I wanted to replace it with some other sweet wincon. It has worked surprisingly well, and I did get a miser's win of a turn one land, mox, lotus, Sol'Kanar. Can't ask for much more Magic than that. Reconstruction replaces Recall (the Legends card, not Ancestral), as I don't have an Ancestral to pick up anyway, and most everything I want to return are artifacts regardless. Shaving off a couple of mana and cards on the casting cost was nice, and Reconstruction is a really sweet combo with both Chaos Orb and Black Lotus.

I would probably have played a Sword of the Ages if I owned one. Not because I necessarily think it is particularly good, but more because this is one of the few decks where its inclusion could be excused and it's fun to play janky Legends cards. But alas, I don't own one and I'll have to rely on Chaos Orb to beat Moat.


Fast mana

The deck can do its game plan and cast most everything except Lord of Tresserhorn and Browse with only two mana. The color requirements on a lot of the spells can be kinda intense though, so we're stocking up on non-basics and duals. If someone plays a Dwarven Miner or Primal Order, that's mostly fine as we don't need much mana in play regardless. SoLoMoxen is extremely useful as a single mox can be the difference between a turn two and a turn three Dreadnought. And occasionally you'll just get the nut draw and drop a Dreadnought turn one. Sure, it dies to a lot of things, but if the opponent doesn't have it by turn two they're just dead.

Putting it all together, we end up with this pile:

Gentlemen's MaskNough (93/94 Scryings)


Some notes on the sideboard:

  • Terror is an actual card in 93/94 Scryings. There's a bunch of utility creatures that you have to answer (looking at you, Goblin Tinkerer), and the powered up beatdown crew demand answers (glancing at you, River Boa).
  • The Abyss is pretty bad. It will kill my face-down Dreadnoughts unless I have something like a Lightning Bolt to turn them face up before my upkeep. In hindsight it should probably be something else.
  • There are more red cards than blue cards that scare this deck, and as such Blue Elemental Blast is slightly better than Red Elemental Blast. That is a bit unusual as oldschool goes.
  • Goblin Tinkerer is sweet, but for this deck I've come to think Shatter is better. The next time I sleeve up I'll probably replace the goblins with Shatters.
  • Forsaken Wastes is sweet tech against Mirror Ball (they can't switch to a higher life total, and Zuran Orb is a blank) as well as Twiddle Vault (it is very hard to go off while taking 1 each turn). It is also just a rad card in general.
  • Tormod's Crypt might be the actual best sideboard card in the format, and you probably shouldn't leave home without a handful. I play one simply because I only had one from The Dark.
Found a bunch Chronicles Crypts in an old binder though. And yeah, I know this tournament allows Chronicles reprints, and I'm certainly never going to bash anyone except Jeff White for playing with Chronicles Tormod's Crypts. But I personally have an affinity for the old printings, and so I'll limit myself to play with what I have from The Dark. And I guess I now have a good enough excuse to trade for some more The Dark Crypts.

So that's MaskNought. A combo-control deck that can sometimes take the aggro route with burn and factories if it needs to. An amazingly fun deck with quite a few decision trees, but also a deck that occasionally just says "Oops, I win". And the Mask is just a hilarious card. At one point in the tournament I got to play a face-down Dreadnought for 2U to have my opponent play around Serendib Efreet. Illusionary Mask feels like actual Magic when you use it, perhaps not unlike Mirror Universe in that sense. This pile is also simply a good deck, if that's the kinda thing that floats your boat. If you have access to Masks somewhere, I much recommend taking them for a spin.


  1. Hi MG. Interesting deck tech. I have even never played against this mask. Must be very funny, mainly when your opponent is not aware, what creatures you are playing.

    Hope you win the tournament. I would like to read about the second part as well.

    1. Thanks Jirka! We're down to the last four players standing now, but the final games tend to be tricky ;)

      And yeah, the bluffing part of the mask can be really fun. I've e.g. held kird apes and factories at bay with a face-down Flying Men which my opponent suspected was a Serendib Efreet;

  2. The Abyss targets a creature, when it targets a facedown dreadnought, the card flips over revealing to the abyss that it is an artifact and therefore an illegal target. So the abyss trigger will fizzle, and the dreadnought will remain in play.

    It’s a similar exchange if ashnod’s Transmogrant is used while the abyss is on the stack but before it has resolved.

    1. Wow nevermind I’m completely wrong. I thought the card was considered a morph, but it’s not. You are right. It would die to the abyss unless you find a way to target it first.


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