Insider Information – Time Sieve at States

SCG 10k St. Louis Offers First Chances to Qualify for the 2010 StarCityGames.com Invitational!
Thursday, December 10th – At States this year, Cedric Phillips ran the fringe deck strategy, and opted for the oft-forgotten Time Sieve deck. While he never set the tournament alight, he still believes the deck may be a fine choice for the SCG 10K St. Louis this weekend…

With little time to prepare for the2009’s and the StarCityGames.com 10k St. Louis, due to college kicking my *ss, I decided to use the2009’s as more of a testing ground for a deck that I felt could have a resurgence:

I felt Time Sieve would be a good deck to play at the2009’s for a few reasons:

1) Your matchup against Jund is pretty close

As we all know, Jund is the deck to beat. I will not say anything outlandish like the matchup is heavily in Time Sieve’s favor, but Time Sieve actually has a very close match with Jund, and it’s really a matchup I do not mind playing. Time Sieve is a heavy favorite game 1, as a lot of Jund’s cards are too slow (Broodmate Dragon, Siege-Gang Commander) or simply don’t do anything (Terminate, Bituminous Blast). The sideboarded games, as with most matchups, are the ones that become more intricate. Jund will sideboard out their irrelevant removal spells for annoyances like Jund Charm, Duress, and Thought Hemorrhage. My plan was to sideboard in counterspells (Flashfreeze, Negate) to deal with the disruption (Blightning, Jund Charm) or to stymie an aggressive start from them.

A few things I noticed while playing this matchup was:

a) It is very difficult to beat a turn 2 Putrid Leech. Putrid Leech puts Time Sieve, at worst, on a five turn clock. In case you weren’t aware, five turns is not very many! However, I knew this going into the tournament, and I was okay with that for two reasons. See, a lot of players have been cutting Putrid Leech from their Jund deck for Rampant Growth, so I expected to play against less of the two-mana 4/4. Second, it is somewhat difficult for a Jund deck to cast Putrid Leech on turn 2. It is far from impossible, but Jund typically gets the ball rolling on turn 3.

b) Blightning isn’t very good against Time Sieve. As I wrote in my highly controversial Jund article a few weeks back, a good angle of attack against Jund is to try to make Blightning irrelevant or advantageous. With Howling Mine and Jace Beleren active, Time Sieve can make Blightning a pretty irrelevant spell. Furthermore, Blightning can actually become advantageous in combination with Open the Vaults.

c) Maelstrom Pulse is annoying, but is certainly manageable. Sometimes Maelstrom Pulse is going to wreck Time Sieve due to the inability to control which Borderposts you draw. The only way you can mitigate this damage is to try to hold another copy of the same Borderpost in your hand, or run out something for your opponent to waste a Maelstrom Pulse on (a naked Time Sieve, for example). Maelstrom Pulse is tailor-made to beat up on a deck like Time Sieve, but you can certainly minimize the damage it does if you choose to.

d) Goblin Ruinblaster is a dead card against you. This doesn’t require an in-depth explanation. Time Sieve doesn’t have any non-basic lands, so Goblin Ruinblaster, one of the best sideboard options in the format, is a dead card against you.

2) Your matchup against decks looking to beat Jund is very good.

There are plenty of decks out there that are trying to beat Jund (any of the Green/White decks, Turbofog, Kyle’s Hedron Crab deck), and Time Sieve has a very good matchup against those types of decks. Those decks are not prepared for the angle that Time Sieve is attacking. A lot of what Turbofog does is irrelevant against you and they actually help you out immensely with their Howling Mines effects. Any of the Green/White decks simply do not have a fast enough clock, the amount of disruption that Jund has, or the ability to handle a timely Day of Judgment. They have to rebuild all the way back up, and by that time, Time Sieve has probably drawn enough cards to start going off.

3) Red decks seem to have fallen out of favor.

I’m not entirely sure why no one is playing Boros or Mono-Red, but both decks are not getting the respect they deserve. Time Sieve has an incredibly difficult time beating either deck, but with how little those decks are talked about, I figured I simply wouldn’t play against them at the2009’s. I’m not sure why Boros isn’t seeing more play, to be honest. I believe that deck is incredibly good at what it does. It’s odd that every article that I have read in the past couple of weeks promoting a new deck is “supposed to beat Jund” but “doesn’t want to play against Boros or Mono-Red.”

With all of that in mind, I set out to take a bunch of extra turns all day long.

Round 1 versus Jund

Game 1 went exactly as planned. My opponent didn’t really start doing anything until turn 3, and I was able to get a Howling Mine and Jace Beleren going. I was able to get set up properly, began taking a bunch of extra turns, found an Open the Vaults, and my opponent conceded shortly afterward.

Game 2, I made a judgment call and decided to not play a second Mistvein Borderpost because I would lose on the spot to a Maelstrom Pulse. I instead opted to keep Flashfreeze up in the hopes that I would draw my fourth land (fifth mana source) for the two Time Warps in my hand. My opponent did have the Maelstrom Pulse, and I happily Flashfroze it. None of the three cards drawn were a land, and we were on to game 3.

Game 3, I kept a sketchy hand and simply hoped my opponent didn’t have a turn 2 Putrid Leech. The hand was mediocre at best (two Time Warps, an Open the Vaults, no draw engine) so I should have certainly mulliganed. Putrid Leech arrived on turns 2 and 3, and neither was in a forgiving mood. I died shortly thereafter.


Round 2 versus Boros

Game 1, my opponent played a turn 1 Steppe Lynx. I could write more, but Steppe Lynx is actually a one-mana Putrid Leech.

Game 2, I morphed my deck into a crappy control deck by boarding out the Tezzerets, Kaleidostones, and a Time Sieve for Day of Judgments and Path to Exiles. My opponent started with a Goblin Guide that graciously gave me two lands and then died to a Path to Exile. I was actually in pretty firm control of this game for a while, due to a turn 4 Day of Judgment and an Angelsong ready for his Goblin Bushwhacker turn. A few extra turns later and we were on to game 3.

Game 3 was a game I am still surprised I won. I kept a one-lander on a mulligan to six with a few one-mana cyclers. I actually had to cycle an Angelsong just to hit my third land drop and left myself open for whatever gigantic beating he wanted to give me. Luckily his draw wasn’t terribly explosive, and when I peeled a second White source to Day of Judgment on turn 4, things were looking up. My opponent was able to regain board position with Ranger of Eos, and I was facing down lethal the following turn. I had two decisions I could make:

Cast Open the Vaults to return two Glassdust Hulks and an Architects of Will


Cycle an Architects of Will and try to find an Angelsong, Time Warp, or Day of Judgment

My opponent had three cards in his hand, and I didn’t know what any of them were, but he did play Oblivion Ring game 2, so I was willing to assume that at least one of them was a removal spell for one of my artifact creatures. If he had a second removal spell, I was dead on the spot. I didn’t want to take the risk that he left in a few copies of Path to Exile when I could have controlled my own destiny, so after a long time in the tank, I opted to cycle the Architects of Will to see what I could find.

I found a Day of Judgment

Winning didn’t take much longer after that.

For the record, my opponent’s hand was Path to Exile, Path to Exile, Lightning Bolt. Good thing I didn’t cast Open the Vaults!


Round 3 versus Jund

Game 1, I was on the play and played a turn 2 Howling Mine followed by a Jace Beleren. My opponent did have a turn 2 Putrid Leech, but I wasn’t horribly concerned because my draw was so good. On turn 4, my opponent played a Bloodbraid Elf and cascaded into a Blightning. I opted to discard an Angelsong and another artifact, expecting to go off the next turn if I drew a land. Three draw steps later and I was conceding the game with two Time Warps and an Open the Vaults in my hand. In hindsight, discarding Angelsong was incredibly stupid, as I didn’t have to move all in on drawing a land quite yet, and could have discarded something less relevant.

Game 2, Putrid Leech showed up on turn 2 again, when I had a Negate instead of a Flashfreeze, and I died before I ever got anything started.


I really wanted to continue playing, but my studies simply would not allow it, as I had three papers due Monday morning. Even though I went 1-2 drop, I felt like I could have done much better. I won’t sit here and say that Time Sieve is the answer to the format, because we all know that it isn’t, but I felt it was a good tournament to bring out a fringe deck that people had forgotten about/overlooked, much like Joel Calafell did at Worlds this year.

Would I play Time Sieve again? I can safely say that I would. I currently have it built on Magic Online, and have been grinding some eight-mans with it to reasonable success. I’ve long since cut the Tezzerets for another copy of Time Sieve and Jace Beleren, as Tezzeret rarely does anything helpful.

Much like Turbofog, there are certain metagames where a deck like Time Sieve can flourish. The StarCityGames.com 10k St. Louis might just be one of those. Speaking of the SCG 10K St. Louis, I will be there playing both days this coming weekend. Attendance sounds like it is going to be high, so be sure to come out and say hello if you live in the surrounding area.

Next week, I will hopefully be reporting about my domination of said SCG 10k St. Louis, but reporting nonetheless. Wish me good fortunes!

Cedric Phillips

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