10 Decks in 10 Weeks: A Blink in Time

Posted in Building on a Budget on April 9, 2007

By Ben Bleiweiss

  • 10 Decks in 10 Weeks! Each week, I evolve a two-color Standard-legal deck that costs 30 tickets or less. At the beginning of the next week, I keep all of the cards of one of the two colors, and then switch to a different color combination, and begin Building from there!
  • Week 1: G/W - The Two Ladies
  • Week 2: G/R - A Wild Pair
  • Week 3: R/U - Aeon in Flux
  • Week 4: U/B - Grim Outlook
  • Week 5: B/W - Rescue Me
  • Week 6: W/U - A Blink In Time
  • Week 7: W/R - Sheer Pandemonium
  • Week 8: R/B - ???
  • Week 9: B/G - Profusion Confusion
  • Week 10: G/U - Fungal Behemoth
  • Welcome back to Building on a Budget! We're past the halfway point of the 10 Decks in 10 Weeks experiment (see a participating sidebar for details. Offer not valid in the contiguous 50 states, or anywhere else in the world. Ask your agent for details). We left off last week with a deck built around the black-white comes-into-play creatures combined with the Planar Chaos rescue creatures. In this week's article, we swap out the black, add in blue, and mix it all up with Momentary Blink.

    Before we get started, you might have noticed that nine of the ten weeks are now chosen for 10 Decks in 10 Weeks! Every week past the third has been chosen by popular consent of you, the reader – and I thank you for your input. We're getting close to the red-black week, so it's time to decide the focus of that deck. I've gotten a lot of good ideas through the forums and via e-mail. To make this as democratic as possible, let's decide this by a poll!

    What should be the focus of the black-red deck for Week 8 of 10?Null Profusion – It flows well into Week 9!Madness – In demand since Time Spiral!Pyrohemia/Circle of Affliction – The family that damages together stays together!Haakon and Friends – Now fortified with Blood Knight!Greater Gargadon – Just add one part Mindslicer and two parts Phyrexian Totem!

    One of the concepts of the 10 Decks in 10 Weeks experiment is that you'd be able to save money, if you're on a budget, by reusing a portion of cards from one week to the next. Sometimes this has happened (Week 3 to Week 4), and other times it has not (Week 2 to Week 3). I'm happy to say that this week's build will keep a good number of cards from Rescue Me. Why can I say that with such certainty? It's because Momentary Blink interacts extremely well with the rescue mechanic.

    Look at it this way – I've already got a deck full of creatures that trigger when they come into play or leave play. Momentary Blink "forces" a creature to leave and come into play in one fell swoop, which triggers most of the comes-into-play and leaves-play effects in this deck. Momentary Blink and the Rescue creatures each have advantages and disadvantages in relation to one another.

    Momentary Blink and Whitemane LionRescue saves your creatures from global removal, such as Wrath of God. Momentary Blink does not.

    Momentary Blink puts your creature right back into play. If you do this at your opponent's end-of-turn, your creature will not have summoning sickness on your turn. Rescue puts the creature back in your hand, which means you need to recast it.

    Momentary Blink can be cast twice, thanks to flashback. Rescue creatures can either be cast once, or can be chained on top of one another (such as a Whitemane Lion bouncing a Whitemane Lion) indefinitely.

    Rescue can return Calciderm. Momentary Blink can flip up a morph creature.

    Rescue puts the rescue creature into play untapped, if you care to block an attacker. Momentary Blink untaps a creature you already have on the board, allowing it to block.

    As you can see, although Momentary Blink and rescue are very similar, they have very subtle and important gameplay differences that make them each better or worse than the other, depending on deck construction and board situation. I wouldn't want a Momentary Blink if my Calciderm was down to one counter, but I'd definitely want it over a Whitemane Lion after I swing with my Jötun Grunt and my opponent attacks back – I get a 4/4 blocker plus I reset the cumulative upkeep on the Grunt!

    Here's what came out of last week's deck:

    Out: 3 Nekrataal, 3 Orzhov Pontiff, 4 Orzhov Basilica, 4 Orzhov Signet, 4 Shrieking Grotesque, 6 Swamp

    Rescue Me No Black

    Download Arena Decklist

    Even though I could have stuck with Shrieking Grotesque, it seemed pointless to have it in the deck without access to black mana for the discard effect. In essence, Shrieking Grotesque might as well have cost , because it was never a good situation to play him without the discard effect.

    In: 4 Azorius Chancery, 4 Azorius Signet, 6 Island

    This is the standard mana fixing for the move to a new deck. In essence, 50 of the 60 cards from Rescue Me are coming back for the first build of A Blink in Time – only Nekrataal, Orzhov Pontiff and Shrieking Grotesque are fully gone!

    In: 4 Momentary Blink

    Since this is a Momentary Blink deck, the namesake card for this deck takes four slots.

    In: 3 Court Hussar, 3 Draining Whelk

    Court Hussar is the best blue-white comes-into-play effect creature available that was not already in the Rescue Me deck. Azorius Herald is a consideration here, but I've been really happy with Aven Riftwatcher – the three toughness makes a huge difference over one toughness against removal and for blocking opposing creatures. Also, Court Hussar and Azorius Herald are great with rescue but not so much with Momentary Blink – once I blink them, they die (I still get the effect of them coming into play), since I did not spend blue-white to play them (their trigger doesn't check the mana I spent on Momentary Blink, only if I spent that mana to play the creature itself. Since I did not play them after a Blink, they die.)

    I've been on the receiving end of Draining Whelk / Momentary Blink in the past in this very column, and it wasn't pretty. Now it's my turn to be ugly – not only do I get a late-game nail-in-the-coffin (no late-game heroics for you!), I also get a win condition, and a Counterspell that can be recurred on the board with Momentary Blink! (Draining Whelk is another creature that works a lot better with Blink than with Rescue, though it has synergy with both. Still, two and four mana to recur at instant-speed is a lot better than eight or nine mana (Whitemane Lion or Stonecloaker plus a recast of the Whelk).

    Game 1: Charlos2005 (B/G Savra)
    He gets Loxodon Warhammer, and I get Icatian Javelineers, Aven Riftwatcher, and Calciderm. He drops Nantuko Husk plus Elves of the Deep Shadow, and I swing, get past, and shoot his Elves with Javelineers. He plays Loxodon Warhammer, and I answer by hitting Voidstone Gargoyle to the board, naming that equipment. He then deploys Savra and Plagued Rusalka. I keep coming in with the air force, and Momentary Blink my Riftwatcher to keep them around. He drops Birds of Paradise, and I swing with my team. He blocks the Calciderm with his Husk, sacs his team to make his Husk 6/6, and makes me lose a creature to Savra in the process with his Rusalka. I gladly throw Icatian Javelineers to the bin, and rescue my Caldierm with Whitemane Lion. In a last-ditch effort to stay alive, he tries to Putrefy my Voidstone Gargoyle, but I use the flashback on Momentary Blink to keep my creature on the board, naming Loxodon Warhammer again (note: If I had to use a rescue creature on the Gargoyle, he would have been able to equip the Warhammer that turn!).
    Record: 1-0

    Game 2: Trixerroo (B/G Dredge/Reanimator)
    He gets turn-one Elves of Deep Shadow, turn-two Greenseeker, and turn-three discard Golgari Grave-Troll during his upkeep to dredge. I get turn 3 Court Hussar into turn 4 Jötun Grunt. He repeats the discard and dredge, flipping up double Akroma, Angel of Wrath, Bogardan Hellkite, Firemane Angel, and Dread Return. Thankfully, he only has two creatures in play, and I put the Dread Return and the Bogardan Hellkite on the bottom of his library with the Grunt. I then play Voidstone Gargoyle, naming Dread Return (just in case). He discards and dredges again, but my Grunt hits every key card in his graveyard, and when he tries to hardcast Golgari Grave-Troll, Draining Whelk drops in as a 6/6, ending the game.
    Record: 2-0

    Game 3: Flyinstik (Merfolk)
    He gets Merfolk Thaumatologist, Coral Trickster and Lord of Atlantis. I get Aven Riftwatcher, bounce it twice with twin Stonecloakers, and keep replaying it to gain 4 life a turn to combat his 7-life-a-turn attack. On a key turn, he accidentally runs his Lord of Atlantis into my Riftwatcher (the Lord itself doesn't have Islandwalk unless two are in play at once!), and that pretty much ends the race. To Flyinstik's credit, I did have double Momentary Blink in hand, so I could have gained another 16 life (at the least) with the Riftwatcher while racing him in the air with double Stonecloaker.
    Record: 3-0

    Draining Whelk
    Game 4: Lasrvith (U/W/B Control)
    I get turn-one and -two Javelineers, and he drops Jötun Grunt and Pongifies it on his upkeep to make a 3/3. I shoot Lasrvith with Javenlineers, and drop Stonecloaker to get an offense going. He plays Court Hussar, I answer with four more power and two more toughness in Calciderm. He drops another Court Hussar, and I swing in with my Calciderm draw a chump-block, and get Aven Riftwatcher. After another turn of this, he tries to drop a third Court Hussar. I have Draining Whelk, and win on my next turn.
    Record: 4-0

    Game 5: Dasrac (R/G Aggro)
    I get Aven Riftwatcher, then Calciderm, then Whitemane Lion to replay Riftwatcher. He gets a morph, and turns it up as Akroma, Angel of Fury. I've already gotten him down low, so I decide to press the attack. I get in for 4 as he blocks my Calciderm, but then I scoop up my entire team with Dust Elemental after damage is stacked. He gets Radha and puts Taste of Mayhem on her, but two swings of my fear creature past Akroma end the game.
    Record: 5-0

    Game 6: Evil Turkey (B/G Dredge)
    I get a first-turn Icatian Javelineers, and he gets Life from the Loam and Stinkweed Imp. He casts Delirium Skeins, dropping me to two cards – but one is a Stonecloaker. Over the course of the next eight turns, I methodically use Stonecloaker at the end of each of his turns to bounce itself and remove a creature or dredge card from his graveyard. Eventually, I build up a lot of mana, start mounting an offense by swinging into his Imp and Blinking / rescuing my Stonecloaker, and then sit on Draining Whelk as my 3/2 flyer takes him apart.
    Record: 6-0

    Game 7: Counterspe11 (U/R Urzatron)
    His game goes like this: Urza's Mine turn one, Urza's Power Plant and Izzet Signet turn two, Urza's Tower turn three, dropping another Izzet Signet and Jodah's Avenger. My hand at this point is double Whitemane Lion, double Stonecloaker and double Draining Whelk. I had draws like this during week 3 with Aeon in Flux, and it would be difficult for me to beat a start like that even if I had a good curve!
    Record: 6-1

    So far, so good, but it's time for a couple of changes. Dust Elemental has only mattered one or twice over the course of over twenty games between this week and last, and it's really awful with Momentary Blink – the last thing I want to have to do is Blink a Dust Elemental that I got to stick on the board. It's out.

    Riftwing Cloudskate
    In addition, Voidstone Gargoyle has been good, but not great. I definitely recommend it for further use, especially since they can be gotten at two-for-a-ticket easily all over Magic Online. Voidstone Gargoyle is better, though, in best two-out-of-three matches. If you get to see what's in your opponent's deck Game 1, you have a better chance of naming key cards in advance with Voidstone Gargoyle. Against completely random decks in best one-of-one matches, Voidstone Gargoyle is a five-drop Pithing Needle (albeit, one that beats for three in the air) that is a crapshoot at best.

    In place of Voidstone Gargoyle, I add in Riftwing Cloudskate, as seen during weeks 3 and 4 of this series. Riftwing Cloudskate gives me an early use for my mana, has a great comes-into-play effect, and works well with both Rescue and Momentary Blink. In fact, if I Blink the Cloudskate, I can double it as a rescue creature!

    I also add in a single copy of Akroma, Angel of Fury. I wanted the biggest, baddest, largest morph creature available for the replacement slot for Dust Elemental – after all, what's the point of playing with Momentary Blink if you can't cheat the mana costs of some huge monster? For those who are unfamiliar, if you cast Momentary Blink on a face-down morph creature, it returns to play face-up. While I don't have the mana to pump Akroma's firebreathing, I'm sure I can make do with a 6/6 flying, trampling, protection from white and blue beater. At worst, Akroma is a 2/2 creature for three mana, so it's not like drawing the one Akroma in my deck is an entirely dead draw.

    (Note: Most vendors I've found who were selling Akroma online had her at three tickets. This puts the total cost of the deck at around 13-15 tickets, most of which carried over from last week!)

    Out: 3 Voidstone Gargoyle, 1 Dust Elemental
    In: 1 Akroma, Angel of Fury, 3 Riftwing Cloudskate

    Since I've got a couple of double-blue cost guys now, I swap out a couple of Plains for a couple of Islands. Last thing I want is to be stuck with Draining Whelk in my hand at an inopportune time!

    Out: 2 Plains
    In: 2 Island

    Game 8: OSUPAC10 (B/G Control)
    I get Calciderm, and he chumps twice with Greenseekers. I end up only getting one hit in with the Calciderm before I have to rescue it with Whitemane Lion. He plays Putrefy on my Lion, and then plays Smallpox, killing my replayed Calciderm. This lets him swing in twice with Weatherseed Totem. To stop this beating, I drop a morph. I have a Momentary Blink in my hand. You can guess what happened next!
    Record: 7-1

    Game 9: Ephraim333 (Doubling Season)
    I get the beatdown with double Calciderm, Jötun Grunt (with a reset upkeep), Whitemane Lion and Riftwing Cloudskate, but he keeps hope alive with both Soul Warden and Essence Warden, combined with a bunch of dudes. Eventually my guys get through, despite his massive life gain.
    Record: 8-1

    Game 10: Necroepete (U/B Discard)
    I double-mulligan into a one-land hand, but it has a Plains and two Icatian Javelineers. I drop Javelineers back-to-back, but he Repeals one and then drops Hypnotic Specter. He then spends the next two turns bouncing one of my two Javelineers and hitting me with the Specter. When he drops a second Specter, it's pretty much game over – I have two lands and a Signet on the board, no cards in hand, and a single Javelineers on the board.
    Record: 8-2

    Game 11: Bennykdogg (R/G Aggro)
    He gets Scryb Ranger, and I get double Aven Riftwatcher, Jötun Grunt, and Whitemane Lion. He chumps with the Ranger for a turn, and then plays Sulfurous Blast. I use Momentary Blink to have my Lions save themselves, and then drop Court Hussar and Whitemane Lion to bounce the Hussar. He plays Scatter the Seeds in response to my attack the next turn, but I Lion my Lion after blockers / damage and wipe out two thirds of his Saprolings. With all the dead creatures, it seems like an opportune time to drop a second Jötun Grunt. He gets a Sporesower Thallid, but I'm having none of that, and ship it back to his hand with Riftwing Cloudskate. In the end, he can't keep up, and Draining Whelk seals the deal.
    Record: 9-2

    Court Hussar
    Game 12: Steveathy (U/B control)
    I drop a first-turn Icatian Javelineers, and he drops Phyrexian Totem. I swing past on turn four, and he drops a land, activates the Totem, and swings in. This is not a good idea against my deck, as I drop Stonecloaker, bounce my Javelineers, and take out three of his five permanents by blocking. He loses three of his four lands and is never able to recover.
    Record: 10-2

    Last week, one question asked is "Are Icatian Javelineers really necessary to this deck?" The answer is yes and no – I want to have an out against utility creatures (and not have the deck auto-lose against Fortune Thief!), but they have not been great. They cost a ticket each, and they are pretty small and useless a majority of the time. The problem is that they have summoning sickness, so every time I Blink / rescue them, I have to wait a turn to reuse them. If I could play and replay them the same turn to deal two damage, I'd have a lot more use for them in the deck.... (foreshadowing here folks!)... but in this deck, they are suboptimal.

    In place of the Javelineers, I add in three copies of Azorius First-Wing. The deck has been winning with an air force, and I might as well add in one of the best early flyers in Standard right now. The choice came down to Azorius First-Wing or Leonin Skyhunter. In the end, it was the mana cost of Azorius First-Wing that won out! Between all the Signets and lands in the deck, it's a lot easier to get a blue and a white mana early, then it is to get two white.

    Speaking of mana bases, I finally decide to try out Terramorphic Expanse (to help feed Jötun Grunt) instead of Azorius Chancery. This decision is really to see if they make any difference to the Grunt, and to allow for a more smooth transition to a turn-two First-Wing (turn one Expanse, getting the opposite color of white-blue depending on what is in my hand).

    Out: 3 Icatian Javelineers, 4 Azorius Chancery
    In: 4 Terramorphic Expanse, 3 Azorius First-Wing

    Game 13: Perusjtk (Mono-Black Control)
    I play Aven Riftwatcher, and he Last Gasps it. I get Court Hussar and Calciderm. He drops and blocks with Golgari Thug, but this only ensures that he'll draw Golgari Thug again the next turn. I keep the pressure coming by playing Stonecloaker, returning my Hussar, and dropping the Hussar back down. He gets Phyrexian Totem, and I swing in for 8, Blink the Stonecloaker, bounce my Calciderm, and play it back down to the board. He has no answer, and I come in to win the next turn.
    Record: 11-2

    Game 14: Callendavid (U/B Discard)
    I get Azorius First-Wing and he gets Ravenous Rats. I swing, and he drops Shadowmage Infiltrator. When he comes in with his rodents, Stonecloaker swoops in and has a meal. Calciderm comes on board the next turn, and is joined by a twin on turn five. The game ends quickly behind 13 points of swinging a turn.
    Record: 12-2

    Game 15: raanderson49 (G/B/W Saprolings)
    He gets Essence Warden and Selesnya Evangelist. I get Court Hussar, double Stonecloaker, and Akroma with Momentary Blink. He keeps pumping guys onto the board and drops Mortipede to push through damage. After a long game of cat and mouse (and him recurring Mortipede), I finally get through just enough damage to kill him while not dying on the counterattack myself.
    Record: 13-2

    Game 16: quans (B/R/G Snow)
    Sorry quans – this wasn't a good showing! I double mulligan, keep a two-Island / all-white-card hand, draw no Plains, have Akroma die to Skred, and lose.
    Record: 13-3

    To smooth some of the minor color issues I've been having with the deck, I add back in the Chanceries, and take out two Plains and two Islands. Easy peasy!

    Out: 2 Plains, 2 Island
    In: 4 Azorius Chancery

    Game 17: DeathMageofWrath (B/G Grave Pact)
    I get Calciderm, Whitemane Lion and Azorius First-Wing on the offense, and he tries to slow me down with Stinkweed Imp. I use a combination of Riftwing Cloudskate and Momentary Blink to keep his Imp off the board for quite some time, and to dodge his incoming Nekrataals. He draws Grave Pact the turn before I kill him, and that was a turn too late to get my guys off of the board.
    Record: 14-3

    Game 18: cascarino (Mono-Green Aggro)
    He gets Silhana Ledgewalker plus Blanchwood Armor on it. I hold him off for a dozen turns with Aven Riftwatcher, Stonecloaker, Whitemane Lion, and Momentary Blink. Unfortunately, I am unable to get a Stonecloaker / Whitemane Lion loop going as he Naturalizes two of my Azorius Signets, holding down my mana production. I get Calciderms to hold the ground against his Gatherer of Graces and Moldervine Cloak, but after a dozen turns of being delayed, he draws Wildsize to trample over my Stonecloaker with his now 10/10 trampling Ledgewalker and wins.
    Record: 14-4

    Jotun Grunt
    Game 19: strider135 (B/R Aggro)
    He gets turn-one Shadow Guildmage, turn-two and -three Rakdos Guildmages, turn-four Sedge Sliver, turn-five Cruel Edict (on my Akroma), and a suspended Rift Bolt. I have the all-rescue draw, and lose with an empty board.
    Record: 14-5

    Game 20: KeeperofDead (B/W Control)
    I get Azorius First-Wing and Aven Riftwatcher, and he drops Sacred Mesa. I answer by bouncing it to his hand with Riftwing Cloudskate, and he drops Necrotic Sliver his following turn, and Temporal Isolations my Cloudskate. When he tries to recast Sacred Mesa, I hit it with Draining Whelk. He then puts another Isolation on my Draining Whelk, and I drop Jötun Grunt. When I swing with my 4/4, he blocks and tries to kill my First-Wing. I answer with Whitemane Lion. He drops Crovax, and I Stonecloaker my Cloudskate and bounce his dude out of the way. When he tries to replay Crovax, I play Momentary Blink (just drawn) on my Draining Whelk, giving me a 7/7 flyer and ending his hopes of a comeback.
    Record: 15-5

    I'm extremely happy with how A Blink in Time worked, especially given how well the deck transitioned from last week (Rescue Me as black-white) to this week (A Blink in Time as white-blue). Next week, I think that a lot of the cards will carry over for a third time as I yank out the blue, add in the red, and prepare myself for Sheer Pandemonium.

    I can't wait! See you next week!

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