I have been playing some variation of this since vintage began and Tog was a thing.
Cody Vinci had a bunch of success with a similar list in the 2006 time frame.
This is the deck that just won my most recent testing gauntlet. It was done after Misstep restriction, but before Narset restriction and Oko printing.
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Polluted Delta
2 Misty Rainforest
2 Flooded Strand
4 Underground Sea
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Black Lotus
1 Lotus Petal
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mana Vault
1 Sol Ring
1 Mana Crypt
1 Blightsteel Colossus
1 Yawgmoth's Will
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
2 Snapcaster Mage
1 Time Walk
4 Force Of Will
3 Force Of Negation
4 Thirst For Knowledge
4 Accumulated Knowledge
4 Mana Drain
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Chain Of Vapor
1 Mystical Tutor
sideboard: -> This needs work
1 Strip Mine
4 Leyline Of The Void
3 Yixlid Jailer
3 Control Magic
The sideboard is probably bad right now. I had been running Strip and Wastes back when they were good against both Shops and Dredge, but now Wastes are not as good against Shops since Shops throw down a few creates and are happy to trade lands.
Ever since Force of Negation was printed I have been looking for a home for it.
The idea is you want to have huge bombs that you drop on your opponent's turn. Originally I thought of a Gifts shell and a Flash shell. Flash just straight up wins on your opponent's turn and 4 extra Force of Wills make it better. Because Flash is restricted it is a bit tough to make Flash viable particularly post board.
Gifts also did not work out. Generally opponents will want to counter the Gifts, but usually your Gifts sets up huge bombs the following turn. Your Force of Negations cannot protect those huge bombs and Gifts usually does not protect it either.
What you really want is play huge bomb on your opponent's turn and then chain that into another huge bomb on their next turn.
This is where Accumulated Knowledge comes in. You can use Force of Negation to protect AKs for 3 and 4 on your opponent's turn. Force of Negation is also fairly easy to hard cast and saves you from random broken stuff in the early game.
At first I tried both Vault/Key wins and Tendrils wins. I hated Vault/Key after Force of Vigor was printed. It was a decent backup plan to take infinite turns and attack with Snapcaster Mage for the win, but I generally prefered to Tinker for BSC or Tendrils. Tendrils did not quite work. Cody's old list had a lot of combo 1ofs that allowed broken plays. He would do stuff like:
tap library: Draw
Gush: Draw 2.
Frantic Search: Draw 2, discard 2 gushed lands, untap library
tap librar: Draw
So all of those cards were sort of decent but suboptimal during the mid game and then could go bonkers when when he went off. He also ran as many as 3 Rebuilds during the Stax era and then added at least 1 Dark Ritual during the Pitch Long era.
The Force of Negations crowed those cards out so going for a huge Tendrils was too tough. If I wanted to do that I would end up switching the deck to be closer to Paradoxical.
I was left with Tinker->BSC as the primary win condition. Yes this gets hated by Grafdigger's cage, but Force of Negation counters that and I can always just bounce EOT before I Tinker.
In general you can always Intuition for 2xSnapcast Mage + Tinker to win the following turn (assuming you have 5 mana)
So the way the game plays out is you just play control. You AK for 3 and then 4 and then ideally you use Snapcaster to draw 4 cards again. You can still Intuition for Yawg, Tinker, Snap later to find Tinker. Between the MASSIVE card advantage and the 11 counterspells you can stop most of your opponent's threats. Then you finally Tinker with double or triple counter backup.
Here is where the Force of Negations shine again. So you might be thinking that your opponent could just Swords the BSC and then you are screwed, but if they only have 1 spell you are fine. You should already have a counter. What is really scary is if they are about to Swords BSC on their turn and then attack with Dreadhorde Arcanist to flash it back. Maybe they have Pyroblast too!
So you Tinker BSC with Force of Negation + Mana Drain backup.
Your opponent is holding Swords + Pyroblast with Dreadhorde Arcanist out and an untapped Tundra and a tapped Volcanic Island.
Your opponent could EOT go for Swords, but won't have Pyroblast backup so they wait.
Their plan is to go for Swords and then if that is countered they can attack with Arcanist and Swords against with Pyroblast backup.
So they Swords first. You Force of Negation back. Now they have a problem because Force of Negation will Exile the Swords. They are Forced to Pyro the Force of Negation, but then you Mana Drain the Pyroblast, Swords is Exiled and you win with a BSC.
So Force of Negation was REALLY, REALLY good in this deck in a way that it was not good in other decks.
There are two cards that seem like they wreck this deck. Narset and Oko. I have admittedly not tested against Oko at all. It was printed after I started my gauntlet, but Narset was still unrestricted so I tested against that a bunch.
A resolved Narset obviously wrecks you, but Narset rarely resolves. In general non creature Sorcery speed threats are the easiest for this deck to handle. You essentially run 7 Force of Wills against them.
So while I have not tested against Oko, I am pretty confident that Oko will only rarely resolve. Still, the way I tended to handle a resolved Narset was to Intuition for Snapcasters and Tinker rather than AKs.
Possible improvements to the list:
- It does happen that BSC gets Swordsed. Maybe run a second BSC or Vault/Key. If so Thirst should probably get dropped. The problem is you now have more cards to pitch to Thirst, but fewer Thirsts. I am not sure how helpful this is since if I just had my BSC Swordsed and I have no counters, then I am probably going to lose either way. I think the second BSC is a lose less card when I want it and dead the rest of the time.
- Maybe drop a Thirst to run a 4th Force of Negation.
- Wastelands in the sideboard are terrible and even the Control Magic was terrible. Maybe add 4th Yixlid Jailer for dealing with Dredge and then 4 anti shops cards. Hurkyl's Recall? The sideboard needs work. Grafdigger's Cage is actually a possibility since you can Tinker out your own Cage to get BSC, but now you just removed your own hate. Does not seem ideal.
- Maybe combine 1/3. Add Vault/Key to the board to deal with opponent's Grafdigger's Cage.
- Thirst compliments Force of Negation because I had keep mana up to hardcast Negation and then EoT Thirst if there is nothing to counter. Thirst is decent, but against Narset it was not ideal so I toyed around with use Fact or Fiction instead. Fact can load AKs into the yard fairly well and does not say "draw" but I think I still prefer Thirst, particularly if I am relying on Tinker->BSC to win.
- Maybe Narset needs to be added! I seriously underestimated Narset. Arguments against Narset are that I have few creatures and thus can's protect it and I hate tapping out to play spells at Sorcery Speed. This means Narset will perform worse here than other decks, but it is still a HUGE bomb.