Article by Loran Kaufmann

Riddle me this, Time Sieve.

Standard is a format many of us are pretty polarized over. In conversations, people either love it and won’t play anything else, Or they hate it and rarely even sleeve up a deck. With the recent exodus of the Alara block and rotation in for Scars of Mirrodin, standard got thrown into upheaval. Alara was a truly fantastic block. It had aggressive creatures, efficiency. It was well designed with some of the cards even ending up in the eternal formats.

Currently Standard’s Meta is in upheaval. It doesn’t really have an identity. The best decks right now are the ones left untouched by Alara’s rotation, decks that were previously tier 2 or worse. When compared to where we were last year when Llorwyn rotated out, standard looks a lot less promising. I’m still giving Wizards the benefit of the doubt. They’ve been putting out quality product for several years and I’ll wait until the second and third sets come out before I pass judgement on Scars.

Well standard players don’t give up hope because there’s a shiny new extended format that incorporates the great blocks of yesteryear. Wizards calls it Extended but we call it Ex-Standard. There is plenty of reason to be excited about this format. While Standard is still sorting itself out waiting for more of the Scars block, Extended gives you the chance to replay your favorite decks with new twists.

Extended is also a way for standard players to keep their old decks in rotation without having to always go out and buy new cards. Still have a Jund Deck? Keep it, its not going anywhere for a couple years. Remember throwing Faeries around. Sleeve them up and join the fun. UW control, mythic, naya shaman, keep them sleeved.

I know that Standard will right itself out eventually but Extended, I think, should be the format of choice for the time being. Most people familiar with standard will feel comfortable with extended. You probably still have a lot of the cards to build the top tier decks. And, like standard is currently, the format is still so undefined. The last major Tournament happened before Time Spiral rotated out so there’s a new, fresh, goyf free, meta-game to conquer.

My goal here is not to tell you what to play or how to play. I’m still a pretty big newb when it comes to stuff like that. Outside of FNM my tournament record is laughable. But what I do enjoy is deck building. Nothing gets my Johnny brain going like a new format to tackle and old decks that need a shiny new twist.

I also want to see more of a following for the extended format. There’s a good deal of high quality decks spread out over the last 3 years which provides an excellent foundation for deck builders. I want to look at the old staple decks and twist them up with some of the new cards.

The first deck I wanted to take a look at is Time Sieve.

Time sieve is by no means a tournament staple but it was persistant presence. Time Sieve is a deck for Nazis and people who watch the Saw movies. You enjoy torturing your opponent while you take 8 hojillion turns in a row, assemble every artifact in your deck and overrun them smiling at their misery of having watched you solitaire magic for the last 20 minutes. To play against time sieve is like getting your teeth pulled only less fun.

Time sieve is also not a fantastic deck to play. It relies on your opponent’s inability to interact with your game plan. A maelstrom pulse or timely counter can really throw you out of the game. It has achieved little tournament success but it still keeps coming up in the conversation. Why?

My Dad used to take me to the driving range to shank golf balls for an hour or so. I was terrible at it. Worse than I am at playing magic. Nearly every hit would shank left or right, knock old geezers out of their chairs or cause traffic collisions. But every now and again, I’d get that perfect form, head down, hips rotated, left arm stiff. And the ball would sail for 300 yards. That one shot made all the other crappy shanked balls worth it. The frustration piled up would be gone with that one swing.

Why Play time sieve? Because occasionally, when the deck, works it’s really fun to play. Admit it; taking 6-7-8-10-20 extra turns in row is fun. As frustrating as it is to play when it doesn’t do much; when it works, the damned thing sings.

The deck is not complicated. It doesn’t have a lot of plays. There isn’t a tool box of answers and finishers. It draws cards and takes extra turns. That’s it. Pre-scars the time sieve formula was this.

4x Kaleidostone

4x Prophetic Prism

4x Open the Vaults

4x Howling Mine

4x Time Warp

2-4x Time Sieve

(Thanks Andy)

This is the engine that draws the cards, takes the extra turns and recurs the artifacts drawing more cards. The phrase Wash, Rinse, Repeat comes to mind. You win with either a tezzeret animating your quintillion artifacts into 5/5 creatures, a glass dust hulk smacking them silly with a +876,242/+876,242 unblockable body, or sometimes even a thopter foundry in a pinch.

So with this core and these win conditions lets take a look at the artifact themed set that was just released and see if there are any other artifacts we can add to this.

…..Hmmmm….

….Really

Well there are two cards we can consider but only one of them an artifact. And the artifact is a legendary so we can’t have more than one out on the field….hoo boy.

But the additions are not insignificant. Let’s see what we have.

Riddlesmith: Combo decks like to dig for combo pieces and looting has been a popular way to assemble to pieces for victory. Riddlesmith offers two things to us. He allows us to dig for pieces we need to win and he fills up our graveyard for the first open the vaults pop. He gives an alternate win condition by putting big artifact creatures in the graveyard for later reanimation. He’s good…..IN THEORY (Is everyone on the forums breathing?). Lets see how he playtests.

Mox Opal: The new mox had everyone excited until we found out it wasn’t nearly as good as old moxes. It was a restricted legendary mox which left us pinning for the good old days. But it is what we have and it is no chump card by any means. The restriction will not be a factor in an artifact deck but the legendary rule could potentially be a problem. However with the number of sac outlets we have and the ability to loot for free with riddlesmith should over come this.

With this core and these new cards let’s see how our deck list looks.

1 Inkwell Leviathan
3 Jace Beleren
4 Riddlesmith
1 Sphinx of the Steel Wind
3 Tezzeret the Seeker
4 Fieldmist Borderpost
4 Howling Mine
4 Kaleidostone
3 Mistvein Borderpost
2 Mox Opal
4 Open the Vaults
4 Prophetic Prism
3 Time Sieve
4 Time Warp

7 Island
3 Marsh Flats
4 Plains
2 Swamp

Inkwell leviathan and Sphinx of the Steel Wind make great discard targets for riddlesmith. Jace, like Howling Mine, provides excellent card advantage when taking additional turns. Other cards to consider would be Thopter Foundry, Executioner’s Capsule, Glass Dust Hulk, Negate, and elixir of immortality. I sleeved up this list and took it to asgard for some playtesting.

I played only a few games with this deck against white weenie. Not the strongest match up and I don’t have a sideboard but the matches did reveal a few things.

This deck consistently goes off on turn five. On turn five I’m casting my first time warp. On turn six I’m sacking artifacts to time sieve. On turn seven I’m returning the artifacts drawing cards and doing the things we love (or hate) about this deck.

I didn’t lose any game when riddlesmith was played. In six games I was able to play him at a relevant time (turn 2, 3, or 4) twice. And he cycled about 4-5 cards putting 2-3 extra artifacts in my graveyard. In a pinch he blocked lethal which allowed me to combo out next turn and win.

Inkwell leviathan and sphinx of the steel wind are not needed. I put them there as alternate win conditions to memoricide and they might make into the side board if that becomes a big part of the meta. Ultimately though by the time you pop your first vaults you’ve won the game. The rest is just an exercise in solitaring effectively.

A 2-4 record gives me a little more perspective in what I need to make a deck like this viable. Fast decks are going to over run you before you have a chance to set up anything. So having cards in the main deck to deal with fast decks is a must. This deck isn’t going to play the control game. It’s a tap-out style deck that doesn’t want to have to leave mana open for a counter or a safe passage.

Ratchet bomb is a great artifact to have in situations where you open against a boros, white weenie, or RDW deck. Main decking two with a third in the sideboard could be useful. An executioner’s capsule could also be called in a pinch to remove a problem creature. Path to exile and doom blade are effective as well and running two removal spells main board should be an issue.

My thoughts so far on this deck lead to the following changes.

Main deck

-1 Sphinx of the Steel Wind

-1 Inkwell Leviathan

-1 Tezzeret the Seeker

-1 Kaleidostone

+2 Ratchet Bomb

+2 Path to Exile

Sideboard

+1 Ratchet Bomb

+2 Path to Exile

+4 Negate/[card]Spell Pierce

+4 Wall of Tanglecord

+4 Safe Passage

The side board is rough but takes care of problems granted by Boros, white weenie and RDW. The wall of tangle cord has a large enough body to stop anything but titans. With a Mox or a Prism out you can give it reach too, in a pinch.

If you get a chance to play test this against an extended deck post your results on the asgardgames.net forums. My next article will explore interactions of mimic vat with strategies of yesteryear. Until then, keep brewing Asgard.