The last time I wrote, I took a look at some decks that were popular archetypes back in the day that got a boost thanks to Time Spiral. This time around, I want to look at three decks that are completely new and utilize some of the cooler mechanics from Time Spiral.
First up is a suspend deck that is built around the card Restore Balance. I know most people hate this card because of its absurdly high Suspend cost. At six, it is the highest of the reprinted Suspend cards, which makes sense considering it has the most powerful effect. However, I do not think we should dismiss the card off immediately because once it resolves, you should win the game. Granted, waiting until turn 7 – at the earliest – can be a risky proposition, but I feel like this deck has the tools to do just that. The card that made me want to build a balance deck was Greater Gargadon. The card is the perfect weapon to go with Restore Balance because it simply sits on the sidelines waiting to get tagged in when your opponent is left with nothing in play. Without him, you would have no way to effectively abuse the Restore Balance; with him, you have a two- or three-turn clock after it resolves. Once I established that we’re Red/White, it seemed possible to build a deck that can survive until the late game.
As you can see, this is more of a dedicated burn deck with an end game plan than a Balance deck. I suppose it would be possible to build a more dedicated Restore Balance deck by splashing Blue and adding permission and Clockspinning, but that just seemed awkward. I like Balance as a late game bomb; devoting your entirely strategy to get it to resolve seems like a bad plan.
Basically, there are only two decks I fear: aggressive control decks like Sea Stompy, and Combo decks. Both strategies are solid against me because my late game is non-existent or won’t work against them. Everything else, however, is perfectly manageable. Regular control decks with permission may be able to stop my Balance easily; however, I don’t try and go for that plan against them anyway. Both Restore Balance and Wheel of Fate are must-counters against them, and Wrath of God can shut down any threat they might have, be it Akroma or Simic Sky Swallower. Everything else is just burn that I throw at their head, and Molten Slagheap is a huge help in those matchups because it can power out a tremendous Demonfire.
Reiterate is also quite good in this deck because of your suspend cards, as well as Conflagrate, which can do as much as fourteen after a Wheel resolves. Aggressive decks like Zoo and Boros can come close to killing you, but you usually are able to burn them out before they can finish you off. Greater Gargadon is great in those match ups because you don’t need to be reserved with him like you do in some other match ups. Following a Wrath of God by attacking them for nine is a common occurrence. Land Destruction and Discard strategies are by far your easiest match-ups, because of all of your suspend cards and their lack of effective pressure.
The sideboard may seem a bit confusing, but let me explain. The Defiant Vanguard is primarily there against Sea Stompy decks. I was thinking a long time about something that could be good against those decks, since that is your roughest match up. Condemn was pretty bad because of Plaxmanta, and Psionic Blast made some of my higher end options worthless. Defiant Vanguard seemed good to me for several reasons. For one, he can come out early and kill anything from a Call of the Herd to an Ohran Viper. Because he comes out early, if they waste a Psionic Blast on it they won’t be committing another threat to the board, which is a reasonable trade off. Second, if you ever get the Vanguard chain going, it’s a great way to get them to over-commit to a Wrath of God. Pacifism got the nod over Faith’s Fetters because I needed at least eight ways to shut down a turn 2 Ohran Viper or Watchwolf. Pacifism is also great against control because it’s a cheap way to deal with their threats, which will, in all likelihood, be legendary. Adarkar Valkyrie was the win condition my deck needed against decks with Blue, because Restore Balance and Greater Gargadon needed to get taken out. Magus of the Disk is not amazing against the beatdown decks, but it serves as a reasonable fifth Wrath of God sometimes.
The second deck I wanted to look at was a combo deck made possible to a Timeshifted card and some more Suspend cards.
The deck is fairly streamlined, so you’ll most often be allowing decks to goldfish against you. That means you are going to need to go off by turn 4 many times. If a deck can’t goldfish against you that quickly you’re in good shape. This means that decks like Zoo and Boros will probably be your worst matchups. You can certainly go off before they’ll be able to, but you’re under the gun the whole time. Since you’re only looking for one specific card, I kept the card draw on the low end of the curve. I wanted the deck to do as much as possible on turns 1 and 2 so that you can try and maximize the speed at which you go off. I’ve never been a big fan of Telling Time, but it does work fairly well in the deck, guaranteeing you don’t draw too many dragons.
Dodecapod finally made an appearance because it’s reasonable you’ll see Ravenous Rats and Stupors at your local State Championships. Why not punish them for making such a terrible decision? I see a lot of people play Ignorant Bliss against discard strategies, but I like Dodecapod more. Granted, the Bliss might be better against Persecute, but Dodecapod should help you in more situations. I decided a bounce package of Snapback and Boomerang was better against beatdown in this deck than Pyroclasm.
The main question is whether or not you’ll be able to survive the onslaught of the beatdown decks before you pull the pieces of your combo together. Control is not a huge problem because you have Gigadrowse and Remands of your own. My biggest fear would be if control decks start playing Rewind or Grand Arbiter; those cards, along with Teferi, should give you a lot of problems.
The last deck I want to look at is somewhat familiar, but it relies on a lot of cards from Time Spiral. Dredge and Flashback are two mechanics that seemed poised to make a splash in Standard, why not try making it work.
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 4 Wood Elves
- 2 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
- 2 Golgari Grave-Troll
- 4 Loxodon Hierarch
- 4 Selesnya Guildmage
- 4 Looter il-Kor
Green was obviously going to have to be a base, and Blue seemed like a necessary second color because of the card drawing options. I was torn between White and Black as a third color and decided on White to have a better anti-beatdown strategy that should very strong at States. Dread Return and Akroma was a plan I wanted to try, and I have actually been really happy with it.
I like Watchwolf in the sideboard against beatdown decks, when the Looter Il-Kor is less than stellar. Simic Sky Swallower is just another reanimation target that should shine against mid-range decks. Grand Arbiter is the much-needed weapon you need against combo decks and control variants.
I’m sure all of these decks have been discussed at some point, but I didn’t see any decklists for them (other than some Dragonstorm decks). I like unique strategies, and hopefully this year at States will see more of them.