Knowledge Vault: Syphon Soul

In an Old School MTG 93/94 multiplayer game (Brawl or otherwise), resolving a Syphon Soul chips 10% off of each of your opponents’ life totals, with some life gain upside.  However, is that impactful enough to run maindeck?  Let’s Crack the Vault™ and find out!


Let’s take a look at the three parts of this card: “all players,” damage, and life gain.




Surprisingly, the terms used on some Old School MTG 93/94 cards tend to prove that multiplayer games weren’t just an afterthought.  I was able to trace back phrases such as “target/an/each opponent, ” instead of “your/the opponent,” to as early as the Legends expansion in June of 1994 (ex. Typhoon).  Many cards printed beforehand, such as Erhnam Djinn, have since received erratum.  If anyone knows whether the Legends rulebook was the first to contain rules for multiplayer games, I would love to know!



More like how everyone on Monday will look when the Patriots win Super Bowl 53.  😉

Prior to writing this article, I had no idea that Syphon Soul was printed before Onslaught (although I much prefer the art depicting Phage the Untouchable murdering people instead of this guy just fondling balls).  This card seems so unassuming, but potentially a ton of fun in a multiplayer game.

  • One opponent:  3cmc for 2 “face” damage and 2 life is pretty bad.  I’d rather Earthquake with [x] as [2] and kill some creatures, too.
  • Two opponents:  3cmc for 4 “face” damage and 4 life is the same net damage to the opponent(s) as a Psionic Blast, but spread across two players.  That’s a quick way to get onto both of their bad sides.  However, unlike Psionic Blast, Syphon Soul doesn’t have the self-harm downside and instead even has some life gain upside!
  • Three opponents:  Oh baby.  3cmc for 6 “face damage” and 6 life.

It just keeps getting better and better after that!



Okay, so we chipped away at the opponents.  Yipee.  Now, how do we put that life gain to some use?  Lich.

Okay maybe something more reasonable like Greed, Ashes to Ashes, six activations of City of Brass, fucking up your Bottle of Suleimon flip, accidentally forgetting to pay the upkeep cost on your Force of Nature, etc.

You know what?  Nevermind.  Lich.  Treat yo’ self to some card draw while your opponents are at 18 life and you’re at, well, zero life, because you’re an awesome undead skeleton wizard.  Just make sure to lower the brightness on your phone before bedtime.



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