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CardName: Lose three+ times at once Cost: Type: Puzzle Pow/Tgh: / Rules Text: How many different ways can you lose at once? Flavour Text: Set/Rarity: Conversation None

Lose three+ times at once
How many different ways can you lose at once?
Updated on 20 Nov 2016 by Jack V

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2015-06-23 11:33:25: Jack V created and commented on the card Lose three+ times at once

Someone asked at Alex's games evening, how many different ways can you lose at once?

I can count three at once in a single state-based-effects check: Have Phyrexian Unlife in play, be on zero or less life and eight or more poison counters and every player has zero cards in library. Activate Words of War and then Words of Wind. Cast Wheel of Fortune (or anything else that draws a bunch of cards).

Replace the first card draw with doing two damage to yourself in the form of two poison. Replace the second with bouncing phyrexian unlife. Allow the third draw to fail. After resolution, state-based-effects are checked, and you lose thrice over: life, poison, and decking.

You can also manage two with Laboratory Maniac and Forbidden Crypt: as part of the same spell resolution, you lose because you can't return a card, and your opponent wins because they can't draw a card. However, I think even during a spell resolution, drawing cards happens sequentially, so whichever happens first, you don't proceed to the second, nor to state based effect resolutions. So that may not count as "at once".

There's also lots of cards that win or lose based on a trigger, so you could count "how many lose the game triggers can you trigger off the same action", but I didn't do that.

I also wondered, if you allow multiple copies of the same effect, can you get more of them? Like, in multiplayer, if all your opponents have laboratory maniacs, and get decked at once, you lose N times. But you don't because in multiplayer "win" is translated to "everyone else loses" and if everyone loses it's a draw. And if someone has angel's grace, then "win the game" doesn't happen. So I can't quite think of the right combination but I'm sure there must be something like that...

The conversation came up with reference to the time (at the Eighth Edition prerelease) when I targeted myself with Ambition's Cost when I had 3 life and 2 cards left in library. Boringly, Caress of Phyrexia is probably the best way to make someone lose in three ways.

­Decimator Web is trying to do the same thing, but mills rather than making them draw. It's possible for replacement effects to turn things into drawing cards, but I can't find a chain of effects that starts with Decimator Web and ends up in 3 loss conditions simultaneously.

There's another way to lose to several conditions at once which is kinda fun:

  • Have a Platinum Angel in play, 0 life, 10 poison counters, and no cards in library.
  • Activate Words of Wind. Then lose all your permanents except Platinum Angel.
  • Cast Divination (or be targeted by Inspiration). The first card draw turns into bouncing your Platinum Angel, "unlocking" the first two loss conditions. The second card draw triggers the third loss condition, and then in SBAs all three kill you.

I thought I had a way to get up to 4: use Nefarious Lich as well as either Platinum Angel+Words of Wind or Caress of Phyrexia. But it doesn't work, because the failure to exile a card from graveyard makes you lose during the resolution of the card draw spell, where the other three loss conditions happen during SBAs immediately after the spell.

Oh yes, I forgot you mentioned Caress of Phyrexia which does the whole "lose three times" thing simply in one card :)

In fact, maybe that is as good as we can ever get. I think cards, life, and poison are the only three state-based effects, and we already have those at once.

And in the resolution of an ability, I think (?) everything happens sequentially, so if you lose, you don't resolve the rest of the ability? So you can only ever lose once.

And even if we count "during the resolution of one ability" as "at once", I think only Nefarious Lich, Laboratory Maniac and Forbidden Crypt cause you to win/lose as a replacement effect, everything else is a triggered ability.

So unless you cheat in front of a judge while casting Caress... :)

Heh. I suppose DQ does count as another way to lose the game. So doesn't forfeiture for that matter, in a sort of "you can't fire me, cause I'm quitting" sort of maneuver.

I think I can add one more legitimate way to lose the game, however. Cast Caress of Phyrexia on yourself while you have less than seven total cards in your library, in your graveyard and on the battlefield, one of which is Lich's Mirror. The mirror will save you, but then you'll lose to both poison and the inability to draw 7 cards a second time.

Granted, the mirror 'prevents' you from losing the game. But I still think it's fair to imagine yourself losing in three different way, doubling back and losing in two additional ways all as part of the same spell resolution.

I guess you could say, if you had something like angel's grace active, how many times does it prevent a loss during the resolution of one ability and following state-based-effects? In which case, I guess it would be six: Nefarious Lich, Laboratory Maniac and Forbidden Crypt sequentially during resolution, and then life, poison and cards during the subsequent state-based-effects.

ETA: Although I suppose you could cheat that metric too: if state-based-effects are checked and something changes (eg. creature goes to graveyard), then they're checked again, and you would not-lose another three times. So if you can trigger a long sequence of state-based-effect actions, you would not-lose each time.

I don't know if that's interesting for this puzzle, but it seems interesting for its own sake. Say you had a 100 Pack Rat in play, one which has taken 100 damage, one which has taken 99 damage... one which has taken 1 damage. First one dies. Second one is smaller, so dies. And so on, to bite 'em.

On the "multiple copies" front, I think you could have lots of Nefarious Lich tokens, and find a way to cause lots of them to all apply simultaneously. That's a little tricky because a single parcel of damage gets entirely replaced by a single Lich, so you want lots of chunks of damage - but they all need to be dealt at exactly the same time otherwise it'll make you lose before any more resolve.

But I think if you have lots of tokens each enchanted with Treacherous Link, and then cast Dry Spell, the damage will all get redirected to you but in lots of little chunks, so you can apply a different Lich's replacement effect to each point of damage, allowing you to be made to lose 100 times by 100 different Liches :)

Slow Claps

Ah, right.

Now I'm unsure. If an effect says "each something does something", do they happen simultaneously, or (like drawing cards) sequentially in some unspecified order?

If one of us casts Curfew and I bounce Dragonlord Silumgar controlling a Runeclaw Bears, can you bounce Grizzly Bears, or do we all make choices simultaneously?

If it's simultaneous, and you lose the game twice at once, does Withengar Unbound trigger twice...?

Generally they all happen simultaneously. Drawing cards is unusual. At the time we're making choices what to bounce for Curfew, you can't choose the Bears.

The Comp Rules explicitly state that losing the game multiple times to a single state-based action gets combined into one lose-the-game event (for purposes of Lich's Mirror replacing a multiple-suicide case of Ambition's Cost etc).

They don't actually specify the same about replacement effects causing you to lose the game, though... hmm.

Sigh. With previous Rules Managers, I could have reported that and there'd be an outside chance the Comp Rules could get updated with a tweak. Tabak really doesn't care about anything that's not actually coming up in multiple games though.

Right, thank you, that makes sense. I'm sad we didn't find a new loophole, but I'm glad we explored it :)

Now I look, the rules explicitly call out simultaneous card draws and game loss, and say 101.4, if each player does something at the same time, the active player chooses if necessary, then each other player in turn order, then all the actions happen simultaneously. I think that matches my intuition for what SHOULD happen.

I still feel there might be some other edge case, but I can't think of one :)

I actually used to have a deck centered around winning during my upkeep with Test of Endurance, Battle of Wits, and Epic Struggle at once. Sorry for the lack of card tags it's been a very long time since I've been on site and have forgotten them. So I guess If someone has that in place and can cast Caress of Phyrexia as an instant in theory that would be six loses I think.

Each one triggers and resolves separately though, so doesn't count. Only one actually makes you win

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