What is a Time Walk? Is it this:
Sure. It must be. By definition of being literally named “Time Walk,” that card must count as a Time Walk. But what makes it a Time Walk?
The literal text “take an extra turn after this one” is reductive. Sure that literally means taking an extra turn, but what does taking an extra turn MEAN? Is this a Time Walk?
It’s got the reductive text on it, no? Let’s stretch further. Is this a Time Walk?
Time Stop doesn’t have the text “take an extra turn after this one.” But functionally? It’s a Time Walk. Your opponent got to untap, but when you played it during their upkeep they didn’t get any of the rest of their turn. No spells, no card draw, no attacks. Time Stop is a Time Walk 99% of the time. What about this?
Is Remand a Time Walk? What about this card:
If you play Remand properly, it is that card exactly. Your opponent got to untap, and they got to draw a card. But they didn’t get to develop their board, and if they had no creatures on the second turn they didn’t get to attack either. And if Remand can be a Time Walk, then this is definitely a Time Walk:
I’m going to be honest with you gang: playing Standard has been brutal since August with a solved format and no new set. In fact, I didn’t even write about making mythic in August because I just repeated with this deck and that’s boring. To make mythic in September before Wilds of Eldraine dropped I switched formats to Historic. Normally I’m loathe to do that as it’s not a “real” format, but I was excited about the fact I could potentially do one of my most favorite things in Magic: take infinite turns.
4 Mana Tithe (STA) 8
18 Plains (SLD) 63
4 Reprieve (LTR) 26
4 Teferi's Protection (STA) 11
4 The One Ring (LTR) 246
3 Approach of the Second Sun (STA) 1
1 Approach of the Second Sun (AKR) 4
4 Union of the Third Path (BRO) 31
4 Revitalize (STA) 9
4 Settle the Wreckage (XLN) 34
2 Reliquary Tower (M19) 254
4 Field of Ruin (MID) 262
2 Devastating Mastery (STX) 14
1 Castle Ardenvale (ELD) 238
1 Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire (NEO) 268
That Thing You Do
Don’t die. Don’t miss a land drop. Play Ring. Start taking a lot of “extra turns.” Cast Approach. Cast Approach again. Voila!
The list plays 26 lands, though I was on 28 for a long time. I regularly play too few, but you draw a ton of cards so 26 is plenty. Having lots of basics is a form of protection, and it’s simple. I went for a long time before I added the two singletons, Castle Ardenvale and Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire. You don’t need either, but they’re pretty close to “free” and will matter in 1% of your games.
The Field of Ruins are a relevant form of hate for two kinds of decks: things using lands to do something specific, like a Gates deck, or greedy manabases who have forgotten about Dre (my nickname for Field of Ruin). In that case you Strip Mine them without spending a card. The rest of the time they keep utility lands, usually of the creature variety, under wraps. Reliquary Tower is probably a win more card most of the time. It shines in a situation where you’re going long on a single Ring and will need to gain a ton of life to stay ahead. That necessitates a huge hand and a Union of the Third Path to gain 15-20.
The Time Walks
Mana Tithe is almost always a Time Walk on Turn 1, and is a Very Good Counter on turns 2-4, and is a Bad Draw after turn 5. The thing is, making it to Turn 5 is what matters so its disproportionate impact on the early turns is worth its weak late game. It’s also an alternate win condition. I don’t say that to be glib; it really is the card opponents are most likely to rage quit against. It happened so often I’m considering splashing white into more decks in Historic just to play it.
Reprieve is almost always a Time Walk on Turn 2. It’s a cantrip any other time. It also has a neat combo you can do with Approach, which I talk about in the “Tips and Tricks” section.
Teferi’s Protection is a Time Walk. Clever players know they can use the Stomp adventure half of Bonecrusher Giant to prevent damage prevention. That means a shrewd player will blank your The One Ring protection by Stomping themselves, preventing you from having damage prevented from combat that turn. Teferi’s Protection? Not so much. Its rules text is “your life total can’t change.” Does your opponent get to draw for their turn? Sure. Is the rest of their turn effectively blanked? Yep.
The One Ring is a Time Walk, and it’s your Howling Mine all in one. It’s insane to me this card exists, and it’s the easiest spend of wildcards I’ve ever made as the likelihood I get them returned to me in the future is very, very high. My all-time favorite deck is Turbo Stasis, a deck built around Stasis and Howling Mine. The One Ring is both of those things together, except the Howling Mine keeps getting better and doesn’t benefit your opponent. They charge you 4 for that, which is less than Stasis + Howling Mine (3U) and it can’t be Pyroblasted, Disenchanted, or Ancient Grudged! This is your time to play this card.
Revitalize is sometimes a Time Walk. It’s a time walk in a situation where your opponent spends their turn casting Lightning Bolt. You blanked that card and replaced the card you used to do it. I’m known for hyperbole, but even I accept that “Revitalize is a Time Walk” is as stretched as my gym shorts’ elastic after Thanksgiving.
Union of the Third Path is sometimes a Time Walk. Union and Revitalize allow you to dig deeper and cushion your life total, or later in the game dig towards Approach of the Second Sun. Union is special because it allows you to blow up your life total and sometimes put games out of reach. It also saves your bacon against a Ring that gets too big, ballooning your hand with Reliquary Tower but turning the extra cards into life to offset the damage from the Ring.
Settle the Wreckage is usually a Time Walk. Against decks without creatures it’s a dead card, but the decks with creatures aren’t prepared to deal with Wrath in the combat step. Settle is unique in the Wrath space because it acts like a Wrath/Fog, and Fogs are a kind of Time Walk. Settle the Wreckage is a Time Walk.
Devastating Mastery is not exactly a Time Walk. Instead, it’s a hail Mary against Karn-based strategies who are better at doing what you’re doing. Catch them off-guard and you may nab the things they Karn-wish for that cause you problems, like Liquimetal Coating. These two slots were originally Plains. The more I play the deck the more I want to have 4 of these, but I would not cut two more lands to do it.
The Win Conditions
Approach of the Second Sun. That’s it. Castle Ardenvale is for chump blocking. You’re playing a two-card combo deck. Two-card combos are very powerful.
Tips and Tricks
- A few Teferi’s Protection tricks.
- Remember to tap any extra mana you might need before you cast it as your lands will phase out and you won’t be able to Mana Tithe or Reprieve.
- The text is “your life total can’t change” so “lose life” effects won’t impact you like they would against “protection” effects.
- Likewise, your lifegain spells won’t gain anything after you cast Teferi’s Protection.
- If you have cast one Approach, you should not Field of Ruin as it will force you to shuffle. However, in rare circumstances you may be dead to any draw that is NOT Approach in which case it may actually be right to re-shuffle so you can open up the possibility you’ll draw the Approach that was otherwise locked to slot 7 in your library.
- You can cast Reprieve on your own Approach when casting it for the first time to return it to your hand. Re-cast Approach the following turn to win as Approach is looking to see if you’ve cast the spell previously, not if it resolved.
- In fact, don’t forget: if your opponent attempts to counter a key spell from you, Reprieve lets you get that spell back instead of getting countered.
- Reprieve works on cards that say “can’t be countered” because it returns to hand, not counters.
- Settle the Wreckage doesn’t work against opponents who have hexproof as it forces you to target an opponent.
I was playing best of 1, so here were my reflections on the matchups I saw regularly.
UR Wizards/Prowess Burn
This matchup is favorable because they’re not playing counterspells. Because they’re an aggro axis you’re trying to blank the big turn or two they have where they swing with an 8/9 prowess creature or some such nonsense. They also have a hard time recovering from Wrath effects.
This matchup is favorable for obvious reasons. You’re well positioned to beat anyone trying to Lightning Bolt people to death.
This matchup is favorable with the exception of getting surprise burned out by Shaman of the Pack. Otherwise you’re just buying time until you can “go off.” You may need to Approach at ten mana so you can leave up Teferi’s Protection. Also be wary of sorcery-speed Wraths as they could end of turn Collected Company into a lethal board.
This matchup is favorable. The fact that your wrath gets played on their turn is very powerful. Be careful that you don’t wind up in a position where they can Krenko for infinite and not need to turn their creatures sideways to kill you. Because they don’t go for the face you just have to keep stalling with “Time Walks” until you can Approach on back-to-back turns. Like the Elves matchup, you may need to Approach at ten mana to keep up Teferi’s Protection.
This matchup is favorable, but it can be tight. Sometimes they’re aggressive enough to put you too far behind to stabilize. Some versions play Thoughtseize, which can catch you at an inopportune time and take a Time Walk. One version I played against had Spell Pierce which also was problematic.
White-Based Lifegain Decks (No Combo)
Angels-type life gain decks shouldn’t be seeing play in this format, but when they are you’re favored because they don’t have reach or disruption. They’re trusting their big creatures and high life total will win the day, but you don’t care about either of those things.
White-Based Lifegain Decks (Infinite Combo)
The infinite combo version of lifegain decks are a mediocre matchup. The decks splashing green to get an infinite number of creatures are fine; play around Collected Company letting them surprise you at the end of your turn and you’ll be okay. The versions that splash black to infinitely combo life loss with Cauldron Familiar or Blood Artist are difficult. You need to keep removing their threats with counters or wraths because their infinite combo happens to work around all the protection you play for such things as it’s life-loss based and untargeted.
Very favorable. You don’t care about the axes they’re playing on, and they’re not playing to disrupt the axis you’re attacking.
Unfavorable. Karn is a problem because it shuts down your Ring engine while playing its own. The biggest challenge from Karn, however, comes in the form of two sideboard cards: Liquimetal Coating and The Stone Brain. Either of those can permanently shut down what you’re doing. In fact, Karn feels like the most unfun card in several formats, and were I to build a version of this deck for Modern it’d be re-centered around Karn. Honestly, a best-of-three version of this deck or one targeted towards cash events on Arena should also center around that card.
Unfavorable. I beat a few who didn’t understand what I was doing, but they should know to hold Dovin’s Veto for Approach and you don’t attack on any other axis.
Could This Deck Make it in Modern?
Maybe. Mana Tithe seems more powerful in Modern than people currently give it credit for. However, you lose Teferi’s Protection and Angel’s Grace just isn’t a sufficient substitute. I’m going to think in this space because I’m interested in playing The One Ring in a real event and I’ve got a birthday weekend coming up in which I could probably sneak away to jam a tournament. As I said above it’s likely a Karn-based version of the deck, but I’ve got no place to test Modern. If you’ve got thoughts on the deck in Modern hit me up and let me know!
(Epilogue: I'm not the first person to make the Remand/Time Walk argument. I swear it was a Flores article for Starcity when Ravnica came out, but for the life of me I can't find it and he didn't know it either. If you know which one I'm talking about give me a holler.)