Daily Digest: Turn Your Clocks Back

Ross Merriam thinks card advantage is nonsense; the future is all about turn advantage! Also the past. Also the present. Also, this deck is sweet!

Experienced Modern players are likely familiar with the Turns archetype. It tries to stall the game while setting up with Dictate of Kruphix before chaining together a ridiculous number of Time Walk effects, at which point winning the game becomes academic.

The deck has sat in the fringe of Modern for a while now, often losing due to lack of interaction in the early-game combined with a slow goldfish relative to the other decks in the format. But the deck is robust enough that closing that gap can significantly raise its standing in the metagame.

Closing that gap is going to necessarily mean the deck becomes more controlling and less linear, trimming on Time Walks and adding some early removal. Lightning Bolt is the clear best removal spell in the format and splashing a color is very easy, so that’s an obvious addition.

The other two cards that make a huge difference here are Exhaustion and Snapcaster Mage. Both of these cards serve as extra Time Walks when necessary but can also be additional control elements. Having versatile cards is very important for any hybrid archetype, and up until now, Turns hasn’t had them.

Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy joins the crew as another Flashback effect that can also serve as a win condition. Looking over this deck, it seems to be severely lacking in that department, but the reality is that when you take five or more turns in succession, Snapcaster Mage and Lightning Bolt are going to end the game a large portion of the time.

Between Ancestral Vision and Dictate of Kruphix, you can draw enough cards to Gigadrowse and Exhaustion your opponent out of resources so that your anemic clock is enough to get the job done. Combo decks often focus too much on their win conditions and not enough on being able to effectively set up the combo. This list moves the balance in a more effective direction.

If you need a more robust win condition, Thing in the Ice is there in the sideboard, which can transform the deck when combined with more cheap interactive spells. Also, flipping your Thing in the Ice with a Time Walk effect is, to put it lightly, a wombo-combo. Another Time Walk or a couple of well-placed Lightning Bolts and the game will end on the spot.

It’s tempting to play as many Time Walks as you possibly can in a deck like this, but you can’t build your deck in a vacuum. This is a more disciplined list of the archetype, one that is much more likely to break through in an unforgiving field of Dredge, Infect, Affinity, and Jund.