Seasons Past

Seasons Past hasn’t received enough attention according to Sam Black. Today, he tells you why sleeping on this card is a mistake and why it’s the kind of sleeper mythic just begging to be broken!

Shadows over Innistrad Prerelease March 26-27!

I actually abandoned another article I was in the middle of writing when I saw Seasons Past. This card is just too sweet. I have to try to build with it. One of the more fun decks I’ve played in Standard was built around All Suns’ Dawn, and I think this card is even better and offers more options in deckbuilding.

This could easily become this format’s Dig through Time, and I like the idea of having the card draw spell that functions as a control deck’s way to close out a game being in green instead of blue because it changes some of the basics about how we imagine control decks.

Building around this card is really open-ended. The one thing we know is that we’re not playing an aggro deck. The “Put Seasons Past on the bottom of its owner’s library” clause makes me want to build a deck that will shuffle it back in and plan to cast it several times, but, realistically, the game will likely usually be over after the first casting, when it fills your hand with a good mix of spells.

The big questions are how much you want to play ramp versus control and how much you want to play dedicated graveyard enablers versus just trying to play instants and sorceries that naturally go to your graveyard and then getting them back. Next, of course, there’s the question of what colors you’ll be playing. Green is a given, but each of the others offer things I’m interested in.

The first card I’m sure I want to play is Traverse the Ulvenwald. This gives me a one-mana spell that’s good to get back in the late-game, when I can expect to be able to cast it with delirium (even if I’ve temporarily broken delirium by returning too many cards). The next card I’m pretty sure I want is Corrupted Grafstone. Two-cost mana artifacts are really powerful. We haven’t had one in Standard in a while, and it’s exactly what I want in a control deck that’s trying to fill its graveyard while building to a lot of mana.

The third card I’m pretty sure I want is Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. If I’m filling my deck with Instants, Sorceries, and graveyard enablers, how can I not want Jace? Even just knowing that I’ll have Traverse the Ulvenwald and Seasons Past to flash back, it seems pretty good and it potentially lets me play random cards with very high costs that I can discard early and then return with Seasons Past.

I know that I want that shell, and I know that I want to hit all my land drops, and I probably want a lot of removal, and I want to set up a position where the battlefield is relatively empty and then I cast Seasons Past and win the game. Now let’s just take some stabs at various ways to do that.

I ended up moving away from Corrupted Grafstone because playing the madness engine with Tormenting Voice meant that I had too many cheap cards, so I moved my ramp a little farther up the curve. This deck feels well positioned against decks that are trying to attack with small creatures, but I worry about my matchups against ramp and control decks.

The big thing I feel like I’m missing is a way to attack my opponent’s hand. Because I’m very much a tapout control deck, I can’t really rely on counterspells. I’m forced to go that way in the sideboard because I don’t have good alternatives, but this deck could really use Transgress the Mind and Infinite Obliteration.

This build is trying to push Gather the Pack. Seasons Past is a backup plan that can give you a strong late-game option you can dig for with Gather the Pack and Mindwrack Demon, then using Den Protector or Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy to be able to cast it.

I don’t feel good about the omission of Sylvan Advocate from this deck, but I think the other two-drops are better, and the constraints of needing to vary card types and casting costs, both of which I’m slightly skimping on, pushes me in this direction.

The sideboard is set up to generally go substantially more controlling, but I wonder if the Pulse of Murasa should be in the maindeck just to give the deck a way to gain life.

This deck also doesn’t use Corrupted Grafstone because, once again, I find myself with too many two-drops and Gather the Pack really doesn’t want me to have two-mana artifacts in my deck.

I’m a little concerned about having enough type diversity to avoid punishing myself with Mindwrack Demon, and also worried that I’m leaning on Mindwrack Demon a little too much to win games.

Let’s try another approach:

I like this direction. I’m not completely sure how well the mana works, but I think it works. There’s a lot of power here, and Jace, Telepath Unbound has a ton of really powerful spells to flash back. Bring to Light works really well with Seasons Past, in that it makes sure that you have the best card for the matchup, which you can then return, and helps spread out your costs. It’s just a really powerful five mana spell to return.

Once again, I wonder about whether excluding Sylvan Advocate is a mistake, and if I worked it into the deck, I’d probably add an Ojutai’s Command as well.

I like Mindwrack Demon more here, as I have a really good spread of card types, so I should very reliably hit delirium. It’s slightly awkward with Bring to Light if it mills a target I wanted to hit, but I should still have plenty of good options.

I’m not going as high up the curve as I did in the Temur build. I like the idea of being able to find Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger; World Breaker; or Dragonlord Atarka with Traverse the Ulvenwald. Then again, I think I have enough power in the deck as is, thanks to getting to use the best of every color, so I’d rather have cards I can use earlier, especially since I don’t have Tormenting Voices to let me get rid of expensive cards I’m not ready to use (and I’m not going to build my deck assuming Jace, Vyrn’s Prodigy will live).

I’m pretty sure this deck wants a high-impact creature to search for with Traverse the Ulvenwald in the late-game. The one Den Protector is there largely for this purpose, as is the Dragonlord Silumgar in the sideboard. There’s a good chance there should be one in the maindeck as well, or at least something like it.

I’m not sure how well Nissa, Voice of Zendikar plays as a control card. The primary plan here is to make Plants and threaten to ultimate, using removal to keep it alive. It plays well with Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and any other planeswalkers, and I have a side goal of setting up a lethal Secure the Wastes, making them bigger with Nissa and Gideon.

Without cheap red removal, I worry that this deck can fall behind and fail to catch up because the opponent can just attack the planeswalkers as they come down. The sweepers in the sideboard help with that, as does Sylvan Advocate, but I wonder if Reflector Mage is what this deck needs. I haven’t included Reflector Mage in any of these decks because Reflector Mage is a tempo card and these are attrition decks, but given how much better planeswalkers play when you’re not behind, it’s possible that this deck needs a bigger nod toward playing a tempo game early to get set up.

Maybe something like this is a way to take advantage of Reflector Mage.

Confirm Suspicions likely isn’t good enough, but I love the idea of passing with that and Archangel Avacyn in my hand. I’m dabbling in Gather the Pack here, which I think I like. I don’t really want to draw two, since I’m just trying to fill my graveyard a bit, and playing a lot makes it harder to have room for enough creatures.

This deck looks pretty good to me. I think the mana’s solid and I like the creature mix. Archangel Avacyn and World Breaker give me great options for a late Traverse the Ulvenwald, and I have really good removal despite being Bant. Jace and Nissa are both great here, and I think I’m making good use of Reflector Mage. I particularly like that Reflector Mage and Declaration in Stone both give your opponent more things to do with mana, so they’re unlikely to be able to use the Clues, as they’ll be busy recasting their creatures.

Some things, like Confirm Suspicions and Roil Spout, are a little speculative, but I think I like this as creature-heavy builds go.

There’s a lot to explore here, and while the full spoiler will be up when you’re reading this, it’s still not known at the time of writing, so some of the last cards could definitely change things.

Some of the big lessons in trying to build these decks:

The Corrupted Grafstone didn’t look as easy to use as I imagined.

Seasons Past is likely a card that you’ll only want to play a few of and then rely on using it from the graveyard (after discarding or milling it; I understand that it can’t be cast from the graveyard after you cast it, as it will be in your library). I’d love to find a deck that wanted to play four, though.

This set has a lot to explore, and I’m excited to look at some of the tribal options available, but with those, a single extra good playable can really make or break a deck, so I think it’s worth waiting until the full spoiler’s known.

Shadows over Innistrad Prerelease March 26-27!