Author: Reuben Current version: v2.30 Last change: 2021-04-05 07:22:17 Stage: Finished


What cost will you pay to survive the sands?

Travel across the wasteland of Vastuum in this post-apocalyptic set, where all mana is slowly draining from the plane after a massive disaster.

A custom MTG set by Reuben Covington

Design Goals

Vastuum is a bottom-up "Wastes" Custom Magic expert level set. The plane of Vastuum is a post apocalyptic ever expanding desert wasteland where all mana is slowly draining away. The set is designed to follow all the rules, power level, and conventions of modern Wizards of the Coast standard legal products. It aims to be a polished, heavily tested, and well-balanced product for both casual play, custom card formats, and as a design portfolio piece. The set's power level aims primarily at a hypothetical Standard format, with individual designs aimed at wider formats such as Commander and Modern. Vastuum is also designed to include elements that appeal to each major player psychographic. Finally, Vastuum both fully supports a fun and varied draft and sealed environment, as well as building a cohesive new planar setting and original characters.


Wastes Wastes X nonwaste lands you control, if you do [EFFECT] (It becomes Wastes, a land with “: Add C ” and no other abilities or types.) In Vastuum the the world is dying, every spell draining the plane’s vitality. Certain spells and activated abilities allow you to use the color of your lands as a resource in exchange for powerful effects.

Journey (Exile the top card of your library face up. Whenever a creature you control deals combat damage to an opponent, put a journeyed card you own into your hand.) Vastuum is a post apocalyptic world. The wasteland closes in from every side, forcing everyone to constantly be traveling and searching for safety. This is a proven returning mechanic from Hollows of Lordran that gives aggressive decks card flow and gives new meaning to Dash.

Dash [COST] (You may cast this spell for its dash cost. If you do, it gains haste, and it’s returned from the battlefield to its owner’s hand at the beginning of the next end step.) Under the glare of Vastuum’s sun, raiders and beasts alike can attack rapidly then vanish. This encourages aggressive strategies that can punish sorcery speed removal and provide a mana sink via repeatable enter the battlefield or attack triggers.

-1/-1 Counters Nearly everything on Vastuum is slowly being eroded and worn away into dust. Play as the vampires or the mutants to gain bonuses from your opponent having -1/-1 counters. Because Vastuum has -1/-1 counters running around, you won't see any cards in the set feature +1/+1 counters.

C Cost Artifacts and Artifact Creatures The advanced civilization of Aethanis protected their creations with mechanical guardians powered by pure colorless mana. Now they stand amongst the ruins of this dying world, uncaring, and immune to the world's end. Cast these powerful cards with pure colorless mana, either from Wastes or other sources.

Constructed Primer

Limited Archetypes

Archetype Name Description
Flicker Midrange Abuse the power of "Enter the Battlefield" effects. Use self bounce and flicker effects to aquire value and tempo through the Journey mechanic and other powerful combos.
Key Cards: Nivia’s Safekeeper, Path of Caution, Exogene Spitter, Oasis Seeker
Wastes Control Use every resource to its fullest. Waste your lands for extra effects to grind down your opponents and take advantage of powerful control tools.
Key Cards: Dusk Dancer, Radaran Stirrings, Sand Manipulator, Life Desecrator
Hyena Dash Aggro Overwhelm your opponent's defenses with the savage Gnolls. Take advantage of the Dash mechanic to provide unexpected additional attackers and synergize with the Hyena tribal themes.
Key Cards: Deathraider Elite, Hateseer Elder, Goresand Marauder, Gnoll Deathraider
Stompy Dash Midrange A solid midrange deck full of efficient creatures. Use large Dash creatures to be aggressive when required, or crush the enemy with huge statlines.
Key Cards: Unbridled Antoch, Sandstalker Duo, Gnoll Ravager, Radaran Hunter
Nomad Tokens Build a wide boardstate with Nomad tokens, using their vigilance to play a balanced offense and defense.
Key Cards: Settlement Convoy, Skywatch Brigade, Sanctis Banneret, Laggu Outrider
-1/-1 Counters Matter Weaken and decay your opponent using -1/-1 counters, tearing down the strongest foes piece by piece.
Key Cards: Preacher of the Faultless, Repel the Impure, Disciple of the Faultless, Wither Away
Journey Tempo/Control Take advantage of the Journey mechanic, utilizing evasive creatures and controlling instants and sorceries to put together a powerful spellslinger style archetype.
Key Cards: Manta Wrangler, Scrapfire Technician, Ransack and Burn, Getting Lost
Wastes Ramp Play out the largest creatures in the set, using your additional lands as resources to waste for extra advatnage. Sometimes also uses a Mutant subtheme.
Key Cards: Irradiated Amalgam, Falltouched Emergence, Harvester of Vigor, Exiled Channeler
Journey Aggro Attack across a wide front while replinishing your forces using the Journey mechanic. Eventually overrunning your opponents with a dangerous band of survivors.
Key Cards: Raid Veteran, Path of Brutality, Wander the Ruins, Hostile Undertaking
Self-Bounce Value Bounce your own permanents for value, either re-using "enters the battlefield" effects, or unwasting your lands to build up huge board states.
Key Cards: Growthblazers, Umbral Glider, Tradeway Scholar, Gene Gorger


Twelve years ago, the Aethanis civilization was at the height of its power. The City of Aethanis was renowned for its incredible feats of engineering and magic, but was held back by a lack of a reliable source of energy. That is, until a young scientist named Nivia discovered a way to tap into a limitless source of power from outside of reality. The people of Aethanis came together to build an engine, called The Source, to harness this incredible power.

As the day of the grand activation ceremony drew near, Nvia was visited by a planeswalker named Foug. Foug revealed the shocking truth: The Source didn't create energy out of nothing, but instead drained it from other planes, other worlds, and the homes of billions of beings. Nivia was horrified at the potential consequences of her creation, but it was too late to stop the activation of The Source. In a desperate move, she redirected the engine to drain the energy from a single plane, Vastuum, dooming it to destruction instead of countless other worlds.

This sudden redirection unintentionally unleashed a massive explosion, decimated the City of Aethanis in an instant, killing or mutating every inhabitant. This event, known as The Fall of Aethanis or simply The Fall, sent shockwaves throughout the plane, causing widespread disasters and draining the land of its vitality. The deserts began to expand, and Aethanis became a toxic, radioactive wasteland. But Nvia, thanks to her quick thinking, had managed to survive the catastrophic event.

Little did she know, the events of The Fall had been part of Foug's twisted machination, who delighted in Nivia's impossible choices and saw The Source as a powerful battery of planar energy he wished to harness.

The story picks up in the present day, as Vastuum is running out time. The silver golem Planeswalker Karn arrives after his defeat on new Phyrexia immedietly after Venser's death. While pondering his plans to fight the Phyrexians that will eventually lead him to Dominaria, he has been travelling to other planes, seeking any signs of phyrexian taint he might of left elsewhere. While at first indiferent to Vastuum's fate, he meets another planeswalker Luma who saves him from a Gnoll raiding party.

Luma has lived on Vastuum most of her life, and argues the case that Karn should help save this world. The puzzle of what happened intrigues him, and wracked by guilt over Mirrodin, he thinks maybe by saving this plane he might begin to atone for his failures. Together the two travel across the vast wasteland deserts, eventually finding Nivia at the edge of the Ruinstorms and radiation that scour the ruined city that was once her home.

Karn and Nivia embark on the journey to Aethanis, the Fallen Capital, determined to deactivate The Source at its center. The Source is overflowing with energy drained from the plane, and they discover that Foug is attempting to claim the artifact for himself. During the confrontation, Foug dredges up the regrets and mistakes Nivia and Karn have made, taking glee in Nivia's torment. Foug planeswalked away with The Source, however Karn had sealed the artifact's power, rendering it useless for his plans for now. With The Source removed from Vastuum, the plane might slowly limp to recovery, the desert wastelands no longer actively growing each day.

Major Characters

Nivia: A scientist of the Aethanis Civilization, cause of The Fall, and now the last of her people. Nivia discovered a phenomena to pull seemingly limitless power from outside of reality, creating a technological marvel called The Source. However due to Foug's manipulation she sabotages her creation and dooms Aethanis. Due to her teleportation magic she survived, seeking every day to undo even a portion of the damage she's cause.

Karn: Between his sparking at New Phyrexia and his return to Dominariarn Karn has been travelling the multiverse since his inability to save Mirrodin, purging phyrexian traces he left behind. However he has taken his defeat badly, feeling he has failed his world. Upon travelling for Vastuum checking for Phyrexian taint he finds a world in distress, decaying in a unique and obviously not natural way. The puzzle intrigues him, a chance to atone for his failures, cleanse his guilt, actually save a world.

Luma: Luma is a native to Elestral, born with an innate connection to the sun and stars. She sparked at a young age, stranding her on the barren dying plane of Vastuum. Here she was taken in my a Nomad convoy who nurtured and cared for her. Her link with the stars proved extremely useful to her new family, allowing her to navigate by them, even in the most dangerous or opaque weather. Over the years she has grown to become a invaluable, irreplaceable member of her convoy and family as they travel from one oasis to the next. However in her heart she knows other worlds are out there, beckoning to be explored. But to travel the multiverse would mean abandoning her family.

Foug: Foug is a planeswalker from an unknown plane who delights in impossible choices and manipulating people into the choices that benefit him. It isn't an accident that he approached Nvia too late for the source to be easily deactived, his plans for Vastuum run deep. Partially responsible for the Fall of Aethanis, now he waits for The Source to finish draining the plane, so he might claim the planar battery for himself.

Naomi: After the Fall, thousands of small settlements scattered the landscape. The inhabitants raiding now abandoned Aethanis ruins, and growing struggling crops. However as the wastes grew outward from the Fallen Capital, devestating Ruin Storms grew, forcing survivors to form great caravans that could travel from

Evaldi: A powerful elvish druid with prophetic abilities, they believe Vastuum's doom is inevitible, but that nature can adapt so that some life remains on the plane. However in the face of such an unnatural disaster, Evaldi believes nature needs to be accelerated to keep up. Thus they formed the Geneshifters, a group of elves who combine science and druidic nature to rapidly mutate Vastuum's wildlife into a form that might outlive the apocalypse.

Project History

The earliest version of Vastuum was created in mid 2017 as an exploration of a concept discussed in a 2014 episode of the Remaking Magic podcast; in which using the color of a player's manabase is used as a resource. Originally called "Ruincast", the mechanic underwent initial testing by using duel decks, using these also to start exploring themes of a slowly dying post-apocalyptic world. Inspirations included Dark Sun, Thomas Covenant, Dune, Mad Max, Atlantis and more. The set underwent a first initial draft which used a cycling from graveyard style mechanic called Salvage, and a -1/-1 counter mechanic like Wither called Wound. Both ended up playing poorly, and in 2018 an overhaul of the set was started, adding Dash, Journey, and iterations to nearly every card in the set. In 2018, Vastuum was voted into Custom Standard a constructed format made of exclusively custom sets, being played in hundreds of games during its time in rotation. In 2020, as Vastuum left Custom Standard, lessons from its time with so much constructed testing where applied, and additional polish and balance changes were made, as well as minor improvements to the limited format. This then lead into its submission to the MSEM2 constructed format, a modern style custom magic format with regular tournaments. With the close of Custom Standard, Vastuum saw yet more constructed play with the release of the Revolution standard format as one of the initial sets to start the format before new sets rotated in, with Vastuum rotating out in 2021. It is now considered "Finished" and is used primarily as a portfolio piece.

Special Thanks

  • Dan Felder - Original ruincast discussion and overall design support
  • Zeu - Tons of support, brainstorming, testing, art, and more.
  • Waka - Writing and story help
  • CasualR, Zervintz, Calibur - Testing, constructed and limited feedback
  • Simon - Artwork assistance
  • Dodger - Constructed testing and feedback
  • Cajun - For MSEM2 template support and templating assistance
  • Everyone who helped with our playtest sessions


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Change log: MASSIVE FLAVOR TEXT REVAMP, thanks Waka!


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Version 1

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This is the first version of Vastuum published on