Baby Grands

Posted in Feature on May 2, 2007

By Chris Millar

Welcome to Timeshifted Week 3, or, for all you Romans, Timeshifted Week III. The "problem" with building decks with a set as kooky as Future Sight is that it's hard to know where to begin. This week's theme narrows the focus a tad, but I want to narrow it even further. You ever hear of Dakkon Blackblade? Cool. What about Rorix Bladewing? Yeah, he's a good one. Do the names Kamahl, Fist of Krosa, Orim, Samite Healer, and Alexi, Zephyr Mage sound familiar? Well, they shouldn't, because I just made them up. However, partially made up or not, all of these famous Legends have little babies in Future Sight. They're kind of like the Muppet Babies, but with bigger swords and more fiery breath. If you think that sounds impressive, just wait till you see the decks they go into!

Ordeal or No Ordeal?

So, where to begin? How about with a deck that isn't focused on one of the "timeshifted" Legends at all? You got it.

Every once in a while, we get a card that allows you to search through your opponent's library and, uh, extract cards from it. I'm talking about Lobotomy, Denying Wind, Haunting Echoes, Extract, and Cranial Extraction. Until Future Sight hit the scene, the most recent example of this kind of card was Extirpate. If there's another class of cards that appeals to Timmy and Spike, but not Johnny, I'd like to hear about it. Timmy gets to say, "Ha! Now I will never lose to my friend's annoying [insert card name]-deck ever again!" Spike gets to say, "Ha! Now I will never lose to that powerful [insert name of slightly better card]-deck ever again!" Meanwhile, Johnny cries himself to sleep, mourning all of his missing combo pieces.


Bitter Ordeal
In our post-Future world, that card is the timeshifted Bitter Ordeal, a card that requires you to jump through some hoops if you want to make it effective. It's one of several cards that showcases a one-of-a-kind keyword, like aura swap, Slivercycling, and, uh, Wizardcycling. In the case of Bitter Ordeal, that keyword is gravestorm. Not to be confused with the Odyssey rare, gravestorm is what you get when you cross storm from Scourge with stuff going to the graveyard from play. I honestly don't know how they came up with the name for this mechanic. Personally, I would've called it grumplicate, but to each his own.

Conveniently, Bitter Ordeal is in one of the two main blowing-stuff-up colours. With its ability to destroy opposing creatures and sacrifice its own, black is quite willing and able to cause permanents to go to graveyards from play. The other colour is, of course, red. (The judges might have also accepted "white.") Red can destroy artifacts, creatures, and lands in great numbers with cards like Shatterstorm, Pyroclasm, and Wildfire. Since it's likely that lands will be the most abundant permanent type at any given time, at least more abundant than enchantment or, for all I know, planeswalker, it seems that the most sure-fire way to play Bitter Ordeal with a high gravestorm count is by using a card like Boom. As The Ferrett mentioned in his column yesterday, this couple is absolutely nasty, provided you can hit nine mana. If you get to nine lands, and your opponent has, say, seven lands in play, you can unleash your Bust and follow it up with a Bitter Ordeal copied sixteen times. If, at this point, you decided to extract lands from your opponent's deck, there's a very good chance that you will leave your opponent with no land at all. Having no lands in your deck makes winning the game quite a, uh, bitter ordeal, let me tell you. I (inadvertently) tried it once with my Golem deck, so I have some experience with this sort of thing.

Of course, you don't need Armageddon to make Bitter Ordeal better. Rough will also do the trick against certain kinds of decks, as will Damnation. You'll need a fair amount of mana to play both a sweeper and Bitter Ordeal, so it makes sense to include some artifact mana (which will also come in handy post-Bust). In multiples, Korlash, Heir to Blackblade can quickly get you to nine, but he isn't particularly fond of mass land destruction. Darksteel Garrison's ability to Fortify a land and make it indestructible not only works well with either half of Boom, but it also helps you to keep Korlash on the board if you play your Armageddon.

If you don't feel like using your B.O.'s to help run your opponent out of cards and allow you to win by decking, all you need now is a quick way to win. It's just a courtesy in this type of deck. There are a couple of finishers that I think are ideal. The first is delve poster-boy Tombstalker. With a Bust, Tombstalker is reminiscent of Desolation Angel. Sure, it requires two cards to achieve the same effect, but that just makes it much more versatile. You can Armageddon one turn (with the aid of artifact mana), and play Tombstalker the next, for example. Just remove all of those recently destroyed lands to reduce the demon's mana cost.

The other obvious finisher is Nihilith. It's not timeshifted, but it definitely fits right in. It's cheap to suspend, it has a nice evasive body, and it'll probably pop hastily into play when you lower the boom (or, I guess, the Bust) on your opponent.


Censors Have Detected an Object Ahead, Captain

White is famous for its love of law and order. You get a bunch of sentient cats and elephants together, and they just can't stop themselves from drafting up some new laws. Just look at all of white's Ninth Edition rares. Talk about rules-setting! Some rules are harsher than others, of course. Wrath of God says, "You're not allowed to have creatures! Until you play another one!" Marble Titan says, "Feel free to clobber with weenies for the next little while." Maybe I'm just a, uh, rebel, but I'm not usually all that keen on these hosers of the great white colour of Magic. There's just isn't much you can do with them. They're nice to have against specific decks, but a card like Ivory Mask doesn't exactly get my Johnny-sense a-tingling.


Aven Mindcensor
That said, I am about to make an exception for the latest of white's rules-setting creatures, Aven Mindcensor, a card that puts a damper on your opponent's ability to search through libraries. It's like the exact opposite of the Dewey decimal system. Unlike No-Fun-Nellies True Believer, Voidstone Gargoyle, and Hokori, Dust Drinker (among others), the Mindcensor doesn't quite deliver an outright "No!" to your beleaguered opponent. It's more like a, "Maybe... If you're lucky."

The main thing, though, is that this particular Bird Wizard allows you to be proactive, and use otherwise symmetrical abilities to great effect. With a Mindcensor in play, you can freely search libraries but your opponent can only look through the top four cards of whatever library he or she is searching through. This is a very nice rule to set right before you play, say, Weird Harvest or New Frontiers. I hope you have something good in those top four, because I know I have something good in my top forty, and it ain't a song by Hilary Duff.

Now, you don't want to rely entirely on Aven Mindcensor to keep your X-spells from backfiring. As those Heartbeat of Spring decks from the days of yore proved, one way to come out on top with Weird Harvest is to win the game on the spot. While this deck can't do that, exactly, you can do the next best thing by fetching Genesis and multiples of Oriss, Samite Guardian. Get the Incarnation in the bin and Oriss One on the board, then dump Oriss Two to Oriss One's grandeur ability. It's a slightly more unwieldy and fragile version of the old Isochron Scepter + Orim's Chant lock, relying as it does on keeping a smallish creature in play.

While Oriss is good times, all of the other timeshifted Legends like to be Harvested in Weird ways just as much. You want doubles, Harvest will give you doubles. Since we're in green already, I'm going to use one of new favourite cards, Baru, Fist of Krosa. His grandeur ability lets you make X/X wurm tokens, where X is the number of lands you control. What a coincidence! I already want to use land-lubbing New Frontiers (and, to a lesser extent, land-liking Veteran Explorer). You will quickly be able to make some pretty fat wurms, and with Genesis doing its thing, you can just go on making them for as long as you like.


Other cards that go well with the Mindcensor include Oath of Lieges and Natural Balance. Since Future Sight has been referred to as an Un-set due to its wackiness-density, I feel like I should mention the most hilarious Aven Mindcensor combo: Aven Mindcensor + Unglued's Incoming!! Getting up to four free permanents has never seemed so pathetic.

Won it, Lost it, Druid


Phosphorescent Feast
It's not a big secret that I'm an unabashed Forest-tapper. If it has in the mana cost, I'm all over it like a Skullclamp on an Arcbound Worker. So it should come as no surprise that I'm digging a Future Sight card that really rewards you for all those 's in the top right corner and/or down the left side of your cards. I'm talking about Phosphorescent Feast, a sort of Gerrard's Wisdom for the triple-green (yes, that Jerrard). I can't be the only one who, upon seeing Phosphorescent Feast for the first time, thought, "Boy, that would really go well with Rushwood Elemental." Just think about it. That's 2 life for every , so 10 life for every copy of Rushwood Elemental in your hand. That's 40 freakin' life! Not a bad cushion. You know who else likes life gain? Ageless Entity. A 44/44 Entity is nothing to sneeze at, but your opponent might want to reach for a hanky when you give it trample with Baru, Fist of Krosa. The hanky's for the sneezing and the oh-so-inevitable tears. What does this wild trio have in common, besides being awesome? That's right, they're all 4/4s. This is job for Wild Pair!

We want to keep everything as green as possible, so I turned to the Druids, led by Seton, Krosan Protector. Along with Diligent Farmhand, Werebear (which I just typed as "Werebeard" for some reason, which would probably still be an awesome creature), and Yavimaya Elder, Seton allows you to quickly ramp up to Wild Pair mana. Once there, you can start doubling up on your beefy guys. But that's not all! There are many sneaky moves you can pull with Wild Pair, but one I haven't heard much about yet involves creatures with threshold. Werebear, Chlorophant, and Krosan Beast are all base 1/1's so you can search for them whenever you play, say, a Diligent Farmhand or even a Dryad Arbor. Once they hit the table, however, they suddenly transform (as long as you're at threshold, of course), so you've just given your little 1/1 a 4/4 or an 8/8 friend. Not a bad deal at all.


Until next time, watch out for those red herrings!

Chris Millar

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