As a bit of a Johnny, I’m always looking for cards that need to be figured out. They aren’t simple cards like Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt that can be useful in almost any deck; oftentimes these cards can be worse for you if you don’t build a deck to suit them! I’ve been looking through my pile of extra cards and found Psychic Surgery, a relatively new card appearing in New Phyrexia. It’s a nifty card that allows you to, in a sense, control your opponent’s draw whenever they shuffle their library. It can certainly be useful against decks that try to tutor for their best cards, and with some clever deck-building, it could be a fun card to build around.
The coolest thing about this card is that it is so cheap. You can bring one of these out at turn two, ready to counter your opponent’s shuffling shenanigans. With Psychic Surgery on the field, a lot of tutor cards can be completely shut down. The second ability of Liliana Vess
Liliana Vess and the harbingers from the Llorwyn block put the chosen cards on top of the library, then Psychic Surgery activates and you can exile that top card – the one they specifically wanted – or the next card if that looks more threatening. Of course you also have the option of not removing either of those cards, if you think they wouldn’t be particularly useful to your opponent. This would naturally happen any time your opponent searches for something, whether it is from the tutors or even simple lands like Terramorphic Expanse
There are plenty of opportunities to make use of this card even beyond your opponent searching for cards. They may be putting cards back into their library, there are plenty of those cards in standard right now. The Legendary Eldrazi shuffle back into their library when they’re put in the graveyard from anywhere. Perhaps you can remove the knowledge to bring those monstrosities out from your opponent’s mind. Other heavy hitters like Blightsteel Colossus
Blightsteel Colossus are put back into your opponent’s library as well as the cycle of Zeniths. Any way these cards are put back into the library, your opponent will have to shuffle, giving you the chance to operate on them.
Of course, if your deck just includes Psychic Surgery while hoping your opponent shuffles their deck a bunch of times, it isn’t going to get too far. There are plenty of cards that can get your opponent to shuffle their library with a variety of other effects that allow you to control the game. Acquire
Acquire or Bribery
Bribery allow you to use your opponent’s cards to your own advantage, taking an artifact or creature from their own library and putting it onto your side of the field. Because their library was searched, they then have to shuffle, allowing you to choose what card they draw next turn. Polymorph
Polymorph is another similar card that can allow you to destroy a creature that they control. While they do get another creature, they also have to shuffle their library and perhaps the tradeoff will be worth it.
Outside of blue, black has plenty of spells that will have your opponent shuffling their library. Praetor’s Grasp
Praetor’s Grasp is a new card that also digs through your opponent’s deck for a card that you might like to play, then shuffles their deck. Surgical Extraction and Memoricide are only the newest of a cycle of plenty of cards that remove copies of cards from an opponent’s library to ensure that your least favorite cards are never played while still allowing you to control their draw with Psychic Surgery. Similarly, Life’s Finale
Life’s Finale will allow you to destroy all creatures on the field as well as a few more from your opponent’s library. For those that can pay the kicker cost, Sadistic Sacrament
Sadistic Sacrament can be the nail in the coffin for your opponent. With one Psychic Surgery, you get to exile 15 cards of your choice as well as one more card that they would have drawn. With cards like these in your deck, your opponent will feel like they have to shuffle their library every turn!
With so much shuffling going on, it would be wise to include other cards that have similar abilities to Psychic Surgery. Cosi’s Trickster, from Zendikar, is another cheap card that gets better the more you opponent shuffles. With some smart control from Psychic Surgery and other blue spells you may be able to keep her around to be a major threat. For an additional threat to their health, you can lay down a Psychogenic Probe
Psychogenic Probe. With all of these cheap cards out, you can start getting bigger creatures, controlling your opponent’s draw, and bringing their life down to 0 with each shuffle of their library. There are certainly some great combos waiting to be had with these cards, some mass removal like Life’s Finale
Life’s Finale, and Bitter Ordeal. Your opponent can be shuffling for each permanent put into the graveyard, also allowing you to pick through their deck for anything you don’t like.
This deck seems like it would be really fun to play, as long as your opponents don’t mind shuffling all the time. It can easily be put together with those situational rare cards that are probably overstocked at your local card shop. What do you guys think? Is there potential in a deck like this in casual play?