Duel with Ruel – Mythic Conscription versus Time Sieve: The Mythic Perspective

StarCityGames.com Open Series: Philadelphia June 5th - 6th
Tuesday, June 1st – Now back to testing Standard with Rise of the Eldrazi, Antoine enlists the help of his brother Oli to thrash out the details of the Mythic Conscription versus Time Sieve matchup. Today, Antoine presents the match from the perspective of the creature deck. Who will be victorious?

This week will feature a Standard matchup with Rise of the Eldrazi; we’re using the “new” cards in our testing for the first time. Until now, it was pretty hard knowing for sure if the winning decklists were reliable enough to test them; we’d often find the version we’d play was already becoming obsolete. However, with Grand Prix: D.C. on the line, and the U.S. Nationals Qualifiers finished (at the time of testing/writing), the format seemed almost established. One deck does not seem to be fixed post-RoE just yet — Jund – so I will wait a while before playing it again. Which is nice.

Olivier was playing Time Sieve at the Grand Prix, and therefore wanted to test it. I expected him to play a good version of the deck. As I really liked the Mythic deck that I’ve tested for this column, and with the version featuring Sovereigns of Lost Alara as a guest star a definite deck to beat, I will face him with it.

Here’s the deck I played:

And Olivier played the following:

In theory, a creature deck with no burn and no disruption should lose to a Fog deck. I will try to create as much pressure as I can before he combos off, and try to finish the games quickly. Remember, I did not know his decklist before we started; I guess that if he plays Day of Judgment, the matchup will be tougher.

Maindeck Games – 12 wins,12 losses, 50 % games won

On the play: 7 wins, 5 losses
On the draw: 5 wins, 7 losses

I mulliganed to six cards a lot, as with no Birds of Paradise, no Noble Hierarch, and no Lotus Cobra in an opening seven, the deck started casting spells on turn 3 and would lose to anything in the metagame. As a matter of fact, I had to start with five cards on four separate occasions, when it only happened to Oli once.

Even though I did not consider it whenever I reached for a new hand, the Time Sieve deck plays 4 Howling Mine, which almost annihilates the inconveniences of mulligans.

The matchup is an absolute goldfish. Each deck tries to kill the other as soon as possible, while only two cards interact with the opponent’s game plan: Angelsong (which is a two-mana cycling Time Walk here) and Eldrazi Conscription.

The most important thing that you need to do is to attack for lethal damage as soon as possible. You must find the fastest way to get rid of your opponent. With no direct damage, nor anything other than creatures and planeswalkers in the deck, putting your opponent at one life just means he doesn’t have to cast an Angelsong, and even allows him to cycle it to reach something that kills you.

I won a few games simply because Oli did not draw either Tezzeret the Seeker or Time Sieve, so once you get the lethal damage on the table, you have to try to go for a “disruption” plan, which will be trying to annihilate permanents thanks to Eldrazi Conscription. If you get the enchantment thanks to Sovereigns of Lost Alara, the annihilator does not trigger as the creature already has attacked when it enters the battlefield.

Remember that the Time Sieve combo is good, but if started too early because of the pressure, it still has a high likelihood of failure.

If you want to win on the draw, you need to kill on turn 4, and the deck does that pretty well. Time Sieve usually kills around the fifth turn. Obviously, as you are goldfishing, you cannot choose to kill that quickly, but that gives a good idea about how fast you need to be, which indicates which kind of starting hands you will keep. Also, the quality of your hand can increase a lot in a single turn thanks to your opponent’s Howling Mines, so you need to have a draw that can at least exploit topdecks.

The kind of draw you need will be turn 1 Noble Hierarch, turn 2 Knight of the Reliquary, turn 3 Lotus Cobra and attack for 5, turn 4 Sovereigns of Lost Alara and attack for 16. This draw is not even especially lucky as you play 4 copies of all those cards, and there are many other ways to get your Eldrazi Conscription out on turn 4. I was really impressed by the quality of the deck; it has a great synergy and an impressive raw power.

One game, I attacked turn 3 with a 14/13 trampler on the play… even if Oli had chosen his draws, I would have won no matter what. On the opposite side of the coin, I lost a few games in which I attacked with a 15/16 trample guy on turn 4 on the draw. As I wrote before, it is a drawing contest. The best draw on the play of each deck will just win, while any average draw will struggle to beat a very good draw the other side.

The Planeswalkers:

Jace, the Mind Sculptor: Destroyed Oli’s Jace Beleren a couple of times when an attack would have done the same. Maybe Oli had one in his hand a few times while I got it on the board, but anyway, the Time Sieve deck has many other things to do with its mana in five-turn games. The best thing I did with it was to bounce a Wall of Omens and make sure Oli would not use it on the next turns as Jace was ready to do it again. If you want to activate its +2 ability, do it on your opponent and put Time Sieve, Open the Vaults, Time Warp, and sometimes Tezzeret the Seeker on the bottom of the deck.

Elspeth, Knight-Errant: The card was okay, as it dealt immediate damage, and flew over the walls, almost like a lower-level Sovereigns of Lost Alara.

Jace Beleren: Fighting it is easy. Just stick to your math to kill your opponent as quickly as you can, and only attack the planeswalker when you have extra damage. If your opponent is obviously screwed, then maybe it is okay to get rid of it.

Some people also play Safe Passage. As I saw at PTs and GPs, a lot people (including some high level competitors) do not know that they can kill a planeswalker when this Fog is cast (as the damage is only prevented to the player and his creatures). I saw Oli abusing it many times by casting the white spell during his opponent’s upkeep. So if your opponent runs the card (it’s hard to find room to play it in a very synergistic deck), it might be good to send 1 or 2 guys towards Jace Beleren. But then, once again, if your opponent can hold any of his precious Fogs for an extra turn because you did not plan to go for lethal damage as soon as you could, you will be in trouble.

Knight of the Reliquary had a different role in the games that it is used to. Searching for Sejiri Steppe is very rare, as the only thing you would need to “protect” your creatures against would be Wall of Omens, and it is quite easy to get through it already. I used Tectonic Edge a few times, but it was useless, as Oli’s Time Sieve deck only played 1 Kabira Crossroads, and even when he had it, he just bounced lands to get Borderposts and make sure he would not have four lands unless if he did not care. In the end, it was a very good attacker and a mana accelerator, which did not happen that often against Jund and Blue White.

The games were okay, but I do not enjoy having no interaction with my opponent. Sideboarded games should be better to play.

I expect the sideboarded games to be much easier. Olivier had to tap out every turn to get his Time Walk engine started, and any disruption at any time should kill him.

If his deck does not improve a lot, I expect to win about 70/75% of the games. In that case, I would highly recommend that he found another deck and not play it in Washington. On the other hand, Oli is a smart little boy, and is aware that there is no point in playing a deck that does not have a solid sideboard plan against a top tier deck of the metagame.

Sideboard plan:
-4 Rhox War Monk
-1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
-4 Baneslayer Angel
+4 Negate
+2 Qasali Pridemage
+3 Dauntless Escort

Sideboarded Games -19 wins, 7 losses, 73 %games won

On the play: 11 wins, 2 losses
On the draw: 8 wins,5 losses

As I thought, the games were much easier. After a few games, I realized that his sideboard plan had Meddling Mage, so probably no Day of Judgment.

I got lucky that I did not have enough good cards to board in, and thus kept two Jace, the Mind Sculptor. That card destroyed Oli’s plan many times, as he would need to cast his Meddling Mage and combo off on the same turn.

I lost a few games to very special situations, such as Thopter Foundry plus double Meddling Mage plus a few Time Walk, but in the long run, the Time Sieve deck should lose to disruption plus aggression most of the time.

Negate proved to be broken when I was allowed to cast it. No need to counter many of the spells; just keep them for the key spells.

Qasali Pridemage was really good. No need to wait for something big to happen, or I might be too late to sac it. Attack with it during the first turns, then destroy a Borderpost before your opponent reaches five mana. I did not get rid of any Howling Mines with it in 26 games, as with more lands and mana, the benefit I got from the card was higher than that obtained by Oli. I always destroyed a land with the Pridemage, and Oli ended up hoping that people would not do the same at the GP. As very few people have played 24 games against Time Sieve, his hopes may turn into reality.

I allowed myself to keep hands that were a little more controlling, but since I had slow draws without mulliganing, Oli would just name Negate with Meddling Mage as it would have been my only reason to keep the hand, which would cost me the game.

I am not sure that there is anything for Oli to sideboard in here; the matchup is just bad. I hope that his matchups against Jund and UW are good.

On the other hand, the Mythic Conscription deck is really impressive. Maybe I should test it against Gideon in UW or Sarkhan the Mad in Jund, but it probably does not make sense to write about the same matchup as a few weeks ago with 2 to 6 cards different in each deck.

Next week, we will test the most interesting matchup from those in the Top 8 decklists at GP: Washington. Until then, cheers and good luck all!