The Teachings of Montreal

Posted in Feature on June 27, 2007

By Frank Karsten

The Block Constructed Pro Tour Qualifier season is underway (check here for a qualifier near you) and last weekend we have already seen some high level action in Grand Prix-Montreal. I was there as well, and in this article I will outline my thoughts on the format, the best decks, my playtesting, and the influence of Magic Online. Block Constructed is by far my favorite format, so it will be the main topic in my column in the upcoming weeks. I like Block Constructed so much for multiple reasons. First off, I like to play control decks, and the best deck in Block Constructed is often a control deck. This is because the card pool is small and therefore aggro decks usually can't muster a fast enough mana curve. So the control decks can actually keep up with the aggro decks. Furthermore, due to the smaller card pool there are often no degenerate combos. In Extended, you can make ridiculous combo decks or beatdown decks that win on the turn three or four. In Block Constructed, an average game lasts for at least ten turns.

In my experience, the Block Constructed format is usually populated with slow mid-range decks or control decks. Just look at the past Block Constructed seasons. Astral Slide control was arguably the best deck in Onslaught Block, Gifts Ungiven control was the clear best deck in Kamigawa Block, and Blue-Black-White Control was probably the best deck in Ravnica Block. This time around we have Careful Considerations and Damnations that shape up what is-in my opinion, at least-the best deck. I can think of only one exception where a non-control deck ruled Block Constructed: Affinity in Mirrodin Block. But that's a rare case where a Block Constructed deck is actually good enough to work in Extended.

The second reason why I like Block Constructed so much is that there are not that many possible decks-because the card pool is so small-so you can actually figure out the format completely and metagame correctly. Related to that, playtesting is more important. My best finishes stem from Block Constructed (I finished in the Top 8 in half of the eight Block Constructed Grand Prixs that I have played, and I have finished in the money in five out of the six Block Constructed Pro Tours that I have played), because I put in enough time to find the best deck, tune it well, and playtest and practice a lot. Usually, when everyone is slacking, I get try to get people to test, because it actually pays off for Block Constructed. There are not that many archetypes or cards around, and the games go longer, so solid playtesting will yield real results.

In Extended, you might work on a deck for a long time, and tune it against a gauntlet of ten decks, and then in the tournament you will play against seven other decks that you did not test against, and the games only took five turns each with little interaction, and you wonder what use that playtesting was. This will not happen in Block Constructed. I speak from experience; I have gotten consistent good finishes in Block Constructed tournaments because I usually play a tuned version of the best control deck and have enough experience with it due to playtesting. This experience will certainly pay off for mirror matches, which is often neglected in playtesting, but it is very important in Block Constructed. When I played Astral Slide in Onslaught Block, Gifts Ungiven in Kamigawa Block, or Blue-Black-White Control in Time Spiral Block, I was hoping to face the mirror match every round. The mirror match was my best matchup; I rarely lost it. I remember one week where I got together with a few Dutch players a couple years ago and we tested like 30 Gifts Ungiven mirrors per day. Perhaps that is crazy, but it did work for me. So the morale of my story is that if you want to win a Pro Tour Qualifier, then practice a lot (and don't forget to test the mirror match). Hard work will pay off in the Block Constructed format, because the games go longer and the amount of cards you see is smaller.

The most important reason why I consider Block Constructed to be the best format is that the better player with the better deck usually wins. This is true more so than in any other format, because Block Constructed games often take longer. No one wins on turn three or four, because the card pool is less powerful than in bigger formats. More turns equals more choices to be made, and then playing skill becomes more important. In my mind, the higher influence of playing skill, the better the format. That's why I consider Block Constructed to be a very good format.

On to the Decks…

The last time we checked on Block Constructed was about a month ago, when Future Sight was not legal yet. Then, we saw that Red Deck Wins was the best aggro deck, Blue-Black-White Teachings was the best control deck, and rounding out the format you had some green-red and green-blue mid-range decks. There were some wild cards-like other blue-based or black-based control decks and White Weenie-but they were not as popular as the big three.

Mystical Teachings

I started playtesting for Grand Prix-Montreal less than one week before the tournament. I was planning to start earlier and break the format, but school assignments and exam preparations took longer than expected and messed up those plans. So I just had a few days to play games of Block Constructed. I prefer control decks and before Future Sight, the consensus best deck was Blue-Black-White Teachings. I played it to a Top 16 finish in Grand Prix-Strasbourg, so I felt confident I could play the deck reasonably well too. I was fairly certain I was going to play the deck in Montreal again, but I also wanted to give other options a try, just to see what else was out there. Perhaps I would find a deck that I liked better than Blue-Black-White Teachings, and then I would be happy I chose to try out other decks. And if nothing impressed me more than Blue-Black-White Teachings, then it would simply be Blue-Black-White Teachings for me and I would have thrown away a day worth of testing other decks, but I would feel more confident in my deck choice.

Blue-Green Shifter

A couple weeks ago a relatively big Block Constructed tournament was held in the Netherlands, where both finalists played Blue-Green Shifter decks. The deck must be doing something right then. One was piloted by's own Quentin Martin. Quentin said that Take Possession from Future Sight had improved the deck considerably, and I kept that in mind. I took Quentin's deck, changed a couple cards around, and played some games.

U/G Shifter

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The deck is still pretty similar to the way it was before Future Sight, although it gained a few new cards. Edge of Autumn is marginally better than Prismatic Lens in my opinion, although the difference is very small. Venser, Shaper Savant is a great sideboard card versus White Weenie decks with Griffin Guide. And Riftsweeper is awesome against other blue decks with Aeon Chronicler, Riftwing Cloudskate, and the like. It's just weak versus a large part of the field; that's why I put it in the board. This particular version is tuned for a metagame full of control decks, with a full set of Mwonvuli Acid-Moss in the maindeck. I also made the debatable choice of replacing two random morphs with two Call of the Herds. I did this because I got fed up with facing Blood Knights and Damnations with my morphs; Call of the Herd works much better against those cards. Note that I don't play Stormbind; I don't think the card is good enough to weaken your mana base and splash for.

Take Possession

Furthermore, I had two Take Possessions. When Quentin Martin told me that it was awesome, at first I was skeptical. I compared it to Enslave and saw the same card for a mana more, and Enslave was sideboard material at best. So I didn't think much of Take Possession at first. But I figured I would try it out, and it really surprised me. It was so much better than Enslave ever was, for various reasons. First, the split second really allows you to swing around the pace of a game. I had multiple occasions where my blue-green or blue-black opponent was in a better position, and instead of doing something useful on his own turn (like suspending Aeon Chronicler), they instead kept Cancel mana or Mystic Snake mana open, thinking that they could now stop anything big I might play and therefore protect their game winning position. Take Possession cut right through that, and now they basically wasted a turn doing nothing by keeping counter mana open while I played something they couldn't counter.

Even better, Take Possession can enchant any permanent, not just creatures. The number of times when I took an opposing Urza's Factory in the late game and then won on it is countless already. This aspect is really huge; many control mirrors are decided on Urza's Factory advantage in the end, and Take Possession ensures that you will hold that. And there are more reasons why Take Possession is so surprisingly good. For instance, you can take a Stormbind where the opponent can't even shoot you in response, or you can take control of a Mystic Enforcer (Enslave can't target it). The card certainly felt very powerful, and I think it is a major role player in this block, and it even fits in Tri-Color Control decks like Angelfire in Standard.

As for the Blue-Green Shifter deck, I played it for a couple matches and it felt good, certainly not a bad deck, but it didn't truly impress me. I had the feeling that I still preferred Blue-Black-White Teachings, so I looked further.

Red Deck Wins

Red Deck Wins was considered to be the best aggro deck in the format before Time Spiral, and Tomoharu Saito solidified this by winning Grand Prix-Strasbourg. I figured it was still the best aggro deck-at this point it was like Monday last week, and I hadn't caught up to Tarmagoyf yet, which should be the best aggro deck now-so I played some matches in 8-mans on Magic Online, tuning the deck along the way with Future Sight cards. This is what I played my games with:

Red Deck Wins

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It is fairly similar still to the version Tomoharu Saito won Grand Prix-Strasbourg with, barring a few Future Sight updates. First, the lands. Keldon Megaliths fits perfectly, but I don't think you want to play four, as that may slow down your draws too much. It is pretty annoying to get an opening draw with 2 Keldon Megaliths, 1 Mountain, Magus of the Scroll, Blood Knight, Sulfur Elemental, and a burn spell, for instance. You will miss a drop somewhere as the come-in-play tapped will get in the way. I think two or three copies are fine, and I chose two. Furthermore, Zoetic Cavern is neat. Most of the times you will play it as a land, but sometimes you are mana flooded and then you are happy to have an extra creature. Note that you shouldn't play storage lands in addition to Zoetic Cavern, as then you have too many colorless mana lands.

Fiery Temper

I tried a bunch of other Future Sight cards, but none impressed. Emberwilde Augur was cute, but didn't feel better than the other two-drops. Gathan Raiders was okay, but since I already had Zoetic Cavern I had no need for another three drop creature (it would only clog up the mana curve) and I still prefer Sulfur Elemental, because its flash plus split second ability allows you to time it very well against decks with Damnations and counters. Future Sight also offered some replacements for Fiery Temper in Ghostfire and Thunderblade Charge. I never got to reuse Thunderblade Charge, so that one seemed to be the worst of the pack. Fiery Temper versus Ghostfire is a metagame call in my opinion; right now there are more black discard spells than Soltari Priests around, so Fiery Temper is superior. I wouldn't play both, as then you have too many three-cost burn spells, which is bad for mana curve reasons. I had no Wildfire Emissary in the board-there was not enough White Weenie-and Thick-Skinned Goblin seemed like the better card for the mirror match. Apart from that, the sideboard is rounded out with the usual suspects, a Magus of the Moon versus Blue-Black-White Control (it should shut down Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, although this is bugged on Magic Online), and a lucky Molten Disaster to give control decks with Cancels headaches. I played a couple games with Tarox Bladewing instead of Word of Seizing (you can't play both; it will clog up your draws too much), but I felt that the split second card served the role as a win-out-of-nowhere card better.

I won like 60% of the matches I played, which was okay, and I thought that Red Deck Wins was a fine deck choice for people who like aggro decks, but it does have some holes versus big green monsters and decks with 4 Tendrils of Corruption and 4 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. I wasn't impressed enough by the deck and felt that I was still better off with Blue-Black-WhiteTeachings. I also played my games on Magic Online the day before White-Green Tarmogoyf decks became popular, and that is a very bad matchup. Playing Red Deck Wins in a metagame full of two-mana 4/5 creatures is suicidal, so I would not recommend Red Deck Wins anymore, not in this metagame. If you really want to play the deck though, then I would replace the Thick-Skinned Goblins with Fortune Thiefs in order to steal some wins against White-Green Tarmogoyf.

Turbo Relic Control

Coalition Relic

The last deck option I wanted to try was a deck with Coalition Relic, as it can give you a big mana boost that accelerates you into expensive cards quickly-turn-two Prismatic Lens, turn-three Coalition Relic, turn-four Take Possession, that kind of nonsense. I think that Coalition Relic is in the top 5 best nonland cards in Future Sight for Block Constructed (all the dual lands are obviously awesome, although Horizon Canopy is the best since it has a unique effect), next to Tarmogoyf, Take Possession, Venser, Shaper Savant, and Korlash, Heir to Blackblade. Coalition Relic is really that good. I started with my black-red-blue decklist from Pro Tour-Yokohama, replaced the Phyrexian Totems with Coalition Relics, and then made a rough sketch with 26 lands, 4 Prismatic Lens, 4 Coalition Relic, 4 Damnation (the best card in the block), 4 Take Possession, 4 Aeon Chronicler, a couple Tendrils of Corruption, Detritivores from the sideboard, etcetera, etcetera. Just quickly accelerate into big mana stuff; that was the idea. Unfortunately, I couldn't quite get a list I liked, and what I made didn't win enough, so I kind of gave up on the idea. At this time it was around Tuesday or Wednesday last week and I just settled on playing Blue-Black-White Teachings after all, which still felt like the best deck to me in the end.

Quick aside here: it wasn't until the day before the Grand Prix that I met up with Olivier Ruel and he showed me his Turbo Relic Control deck. He made me realize what I was doing wrong with my Turbo Relic Control deck: I didn't play enough colors and wasn't greedy enough with my mana base. Olivier just ran all five colors, no problem. And that makes sense. In a deck with 4 Prismatic Lens, 4 Coalition Relic, and 4 Terramorphic Expanse, you can basically include any cards from any color as you please. He added Careful Consideration and Tarmogoyf-a very solid combo-and I felt that his list was basically the embodiment of what I was aiming for with this archetype. I almost switched to his deck at the last minute, but in the end I stuck with the Blue-Black-White Teachings deck that I had settled upon. For reference, you can find Olivier's decklist here.

The Magic Online Premier Event Results

So at this point it was around Tuesday or Wednesday last week and after testing a couple decks, I could not find anything that I liked better than Blue-Black-White Teachings, so that's what I settled on. Also, around this time I took a look at the Magic Online Premier Event results.

Deck namePopularity week 24Popularity week 25
1. Blue-Black-White Teachings16%22%
2. White-Green(-Red) Tarmogoyf0%27%
3. Red Deck Wins14%10%
4. Mono Black Discard Fatties18%4%
5. Mono Blue Pickles4%9%
6. Blue-Green(-Red) Shifter14%2%
7. Black-blue Korlash Teachings15%1%
8. White Weenie0%6%
9. Black-Red-Blue Control3%8%
10. Wild Pair Slivers3%2%

I arbitrarily cut off the above table at the top 10 decks. There were five Premier Events in week 24, and nine Premier Events in week 25 (i.e., last week). The decks are ranked in order of average popularity over all events.

When I looked at the results of week 24 on Tuesday last week, there was one main surprise deck: Mono-Black Discard Fatties. This deck used Augur of Skulls and Stupor to wreck the opponent's hand, Damnation and Tendrils of Corruption to destroy the opponent's creatures, and included fat finishers in Korlash, Tombstalker, and Nihilith (which works well with the discard spells). However, this deck felt rather underpowered to me, certainly lacking any good card draw and just playing overall weak cards. Blue card draw is just better than black discard, and Nihilith is cute but not as powerful as many of the other available creatures in the block. And the feeling I got from the few games I played against that deck was that it was simply lacking. I know an underpowered Block Constructed deck when I see one, and I am not surprised that the deck died out in the subsequent week.

The real big surprise new deck, however, was powered by Future Sight's own Horizon Canopy and Tarmogoyf. I am not exactly sure who originally created the deck; but I expect it originated from Magic Online, as the first time I saw it was when "tradecaravan" won a Premier Event with it on Monday, June 18. Since then, it has been all over the place. It even won Grand Prix-Montreal. If it was not for Magic Online, then I do not think the deck would have been this popular. Heck, if it was not for Magic Online, then I would probably have missed this deck completely!

White/Green Tarmagoyf Aggro

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This deck tries to beef up Tarmogoyf and Mystic Enforcer as quickly as possible. Edge of Autumn works wonders in this deck; you sacrifice a Flagstones of Trokair to cycle it for no card disadvantage, and you get two card types in the graveyard right away. The deck has enchantments, sorceries, instants, creatures, and lands, and some versions even play Chromatic Star as well. That's one big Tarmogoyf. I vastly underrated this card when it came out. I thought it wasn't that good, and I played it a few games in a non-dedicated deck where it was disappointing. But if you built your deck with the goal of maximizing Tarmogoyf in mind, then the card is decidedly awesome. Expect to see a lot of this card in the coming two years. White-Green Tarmogoyf Aggro feels like the proper evolution of White Weenie, and it has established itself as the best beatdown deck. Two-color beatdown was hard before Future Sight, but now that you get dual lands (e.g., Horizon Canopy), the mana becomes much more reliable. That is very important.

Blue-Black-White Teachings

I had already settled on Blue-Black-White Teachings, and I chose not to switch to White-Green Tarmogoyf Aggro. Even though it looked like a cleverly constructed deck, I still preferred a deck with Damnations and blue card draw. I started off with my list from Grand Prix-Strasbourg-which was a mix between Wafo-Tapa's deck and Herberholz's deck from the Pro Tour-and added a couple Future Sight cards, like 2 Tolaria West, which could fetch Academy Ruins (to go with Triskelavus), or Urza's Factory (a fine win condition), or Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth (so you can play Tendrils of Corruption for a lot), or Slaughter Pact (die, Tarmogoyf). I also added a couple River of Tears, but not four. It fixed the mana, but it is often worse than an Island; for instance when you have to topdeck a second blue source for Careful Consideration, or when you have to play Cancel at the end of your own turn. I also put Take Possession in the sideboard, since it felt very good for the mirror match. This deck worked fine, I was happy with it, and I started tweaking it.

Korlash, Heir to Blackblade

I then also saw Blue-Black-White Teachings variations floating around that were more heavily in black, eschewing Cancels in order to fit in lots of Swamps and Korlash, Heir to Blackblade. Korlash, Heir to Blackblade is a very powerful new card, awesome with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, and a perfect fit for black-based control decks. But once I got to actually trying it, Korlash was somewhat disappointing. First, the grandeur wasn't as useful as I rarely drew two. Furthermore, I couldn't make a mana base with more than 8 Swamps, and often when I played Korlash on turn four it was just a weak 2/2 or a 3/3. In the late game when I had Urborg in play he was nice, but even then it was just a mere creature. Control decks need control cards, not random creatures. And then when you had Korlash out, your opponent made a flyer-or even more embarrassing, a Whirling Dervish-and you still had to Damnation and take out your own Korlash in the process.

Furthermore, the Korlash version doesn't play Cancel (due to mana base issues, you have to run more basic Swamps than basic Islands). The Cancels are not all-important and not particularly amazing in the deck, but they just feel safe to have and they definitely make your Mystical Teachings much better. Taking control by chaining Teachings into Cancels gives you a feeling of security. Without countermagic, who knows what your opponent could still do to come back in the game? I couldn't beat Haunting Hymns, Wild Pairs, or similar big spells without Cancels. And they are also good to have versus Griffin Guide and Mystic Enforcer; Tendrils of Corruption can't solve everything satisfactorily. However, the Korlash certainly sped up games, which is relevant since it is hard to finish three games in the round time of 50 minutes, and it was fine in the mirror match to put on pressure. Eventually, I stuck with the Cancel version, not the Korlash version, mainly because I wanted the security of countermagic in control matchups. I like what Paul Cheon did with his decklist, though; instead of Cancels he has Psychotic Episodes, which essentially fulfill the same role, but they fit in the black mana base. So I think it will eventually come down to what you prefer to play with; countermagic or creatures. It's pretty close; I still prefer countermagic, I think, but I can't fault anyone for choosing Korlash in the Pro Tour Qualifiers, especially since it makes the games go faster.

Now I had my basic list drawn up, played with it a bit, and then flew out to Montreal. I exchanged thoughts on the blue-black-white list with my roommates Tiago Chan and Rogier Maaten and finished up a solidly tuned version. Then I met up with the Japanese players, and noticed that a lot of them were planning to play Mono-Blue Pickles. Venser, Shaper Savant really made this deck tick, as it allows you to actually win a tempo game versus beatdown decks. The deck also did not seem bad, but I just preferred to play with Damnation. That card is just so good, especially against the white-green decks that were getting popular. Damnation plus card draw just felt too strong to pass up. So I stuck with my initial plan.

I finished in the Top 32, and the deck I played felt very strong. I am fairly certain that a deck with Damnation and blue card draw is simply the best deck available. I am even more strengthened in this belief since I think that I could have actually won most games that I lost. I played a pretty solid game, but there are trade-offs between playing fast and playing optimally, and if you want to finish the games in time (without getting too many unintentional draws) then you will inevitably make mistakes and toss some games, which is what happened to me. You have to make so many choices with the deck every turn, and I wish that I was like Shouta Yasooka or Kenji Tsumura, who can play this deck perfectly at lightning speed. Unfortunately, I can't. These Japanese players truly deserved to be in the Top 8 of the Grand Prix, while I probably played well enough for just a Top 16 or Top 32 finish. This all feels very fair, however; I like that in Block Constructed, better playing skill often gets rewarded, because the decks and games are pretty complicated.

This is the list that I would recommend for the Pro Tour Qualifiers:

U/B/w Teachings

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Temporal Isolation

This list is a bit different from what I played in the Grand Prix; I made a couple changes. In the Grand Prix I had 1 Calciform Pools, 1 Urza's Factory, 1 Phyrexian Totem, and 1 Sudden Death maindeck instead of the 1 Plains, 1 Slaughter Pact, 1 Coalition Relic, and 1 Temporal Isolation in the updated list. The sideboard of my Grand Prix deck held 1 Slaughter Pact, 1 Plains, and 1 lucky Dodecapod instead of 1 Imp's Mischief, 1 Vesuvan Shapeshifter, and 1 Venser, Shaper Savant in the updated list. I made these changes because (a) I felt I had one land too much in the deck, so instead I have put an extra Slaughter Pact to destroy a creature out of nowhere in response to a Griffin Guide; (b) Temporal Isolation felt better than Sudden Death, because of the popularity of Mystic Enforcer, although the maindeck Isolation is only correct as long as White-Green Tarmogoyf is more than 25 percent of the metagame; (c) the mana base had to be switched around since now I had put a white card maindeck and cut a land, freeing up slots as a side effect; (d) I didn't see many black discard decks, so I cut the singleton lucky Dodecapod; (e) I saw a couple games where Imp's Mischief on Careful Consideration or Haunting Hymn broke the game-it looks pretty good in the mirror match, so I added one; (f) morph decks were popular, so a third Vesuvan Shapeshifter to steal their unmorphing abilities is nice; (g) an extra card versus White-Green Aggro in Venser, Shaper Savant-good versus Call of the Herd and Griffin Guide-felt good, since the deck turned out to be so popular.

Now, I'll cover some of the more interesting card choices in detail.

Maindeck Take Possession? At first I had it in the sideboard just for the mirror match, but it also happened to be very good versus White-Green Tarmogoyf aggro (stealing Mystic Enforcer and Griffin Guided Tarmogoyfs), so it found a spot maindeck. It is not as good against Blue-Green Shifter and Mono-Blue Pickles as you might think, though, as they play lots of bounce like Riftwing Cloudskate to handle it.

No Draining Whelk? It never really did it for me, since a six-mana counterspell is not what you want. And I preferred Take Possession and Triskelavus in the six-/seven- mana win condition slot instead. Draining Whelk is better in the Korlash version, since then you put more pressure on your opponent; he has to do something and then a Whelk can wreck him. Whelk is harder to set up in my deck, although I wouldn't fault you for including one in the board.

How about the Triskelavus? It is pretty good in the mirror match in combination with Academy Ruins. It is also very good against White/Green Tarmogoyf aggro, giving enough chump blockers for Mystic Enforcer, which can buy you the time needed to take over the game.

Just 1 Urza's Factory? Well, I played two in Montreal, but I felt I had too many colorless lands, and sometimes I was staring at 2 Urza's Factory and an Academy Ruins in the late game and didn't know which one to use. If you have no Academy Ruins for the Triskelavus, then a second Factory should be good, but I got the feeling that two of these late game win condition lands were the maximum, especially when you also have a Tolaria West.

Four Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth? I still like the combo with Tendrils of Corruption very much. Against creature decks, the huge life swings are just so important. Some versions play three Urborgs, but in my opinion, having an Urborg in play more often is worth the risk of drawing multiples sometimes. Furthermore, you can always toss out excess ones to Careful Consideration.

No Extirpate? I don't like the card at all; it never does anything for me, since usually it does not affect the board or the opponent's hand. If I had one in the sideboard, I would not even put it in against the mirror match. Usually when I play Mystical Teachings, the opponent panics and quickly plays a Teachings of his own to fetch Extirpate and remove mine. This is usually wrong; from my perspective I rarely care whether my Teachings are removed, since I can just use my mana on other spells or Factory tokens. Extirpate on Cancel or Triskelavus is often just a better plan. Perhaps if reanimation decks become popular, then an Extirpate is okay in the board, but it is vastly overrated in the mirror match, trust me.

No maindeck Pull from Eternity? I don't think the metagame is right for it. White-Green Tarmogoyf Aggro doesn't run suspend cards, and some Blue-Black-White Teachings decks have even cut the Aeon Chroniclers out of fear for Riftsweeper. I think Pull fits better in the sideboard right now.

How about the Aeon Chroniclers? I still like them because of their versatility. Suspend for 5 to get card advantage, suspend for 1 to get a quick beater. Sure, almost half of the decks play Pull from Eternity or Riftsweeper, but if you are afraid of those cards then remember you can always cast it face up. A five mana 5/5 creature is not the end of the world. And if you cut Aeon Chroniclers, then you might miss win conditions, so I like to keep them in.

One Tolaria West? Some versions play four, which is too much in my opinion. Then all the come-in-play tapped lands slow you down too much. I had two Tolaria Wests at first, but noticed I rarely transmuted them, so I just went down to one. One copy can't really hurt, and it is a fifth Urborg, a second Academy Ruins, a third Slaughter Pact, etcetera; just makes the deck more consistent.

Four Shadowmage Infiltrator? I like how they can speed up games, and they are amazing versus Blue-Green Shifter and Mono-Blue Pickles, as they don't have many answers to it. Finkel simplifies your game plan too.

Only 2 Mystical Teachings? They are pretty slow, you never want to draw two, and I didn't chain Teachings into Teachings all that often. The usual number is three copies, but I cut one and haven't regretted it.

These would be my sideboard plans for this deck:

Blue-Black-White Teachings mirror match: +1 Pull from Eternity, +1 Disenchant, +1 Aeon Chronicler, +1 Imp's Mischief, +1 Haunting Hymn, +1 Venser, Shaper Savant, -1 Tendrils of Corruption, -2 Damnation, -1 Slaughter Pact, -1 Shadowmage Infiltrator, -1 Temporal Isolation

White-Green(-Red) Tarmogoyf: +1 Venser, Shaper Savant, +2 Vesuvan Shapeshifter, +1 Slaughter Pact, +1 Strangling Soot, -2 Aeon Chronicler, -1 Mystical Teachings, -1 Cancel, -1 Shadowmage Infiltrator

Red Deck Wins: +1 Pull from Eternity, +2 Aven Riftwatcher, +1 Haunting Hymn, +1 Aeon Chronicler, +1 Tendrils of Corruption, +1 Strangling Soot, -2 Take Possession, -1 Academy Ruins, -1 Cancel, -1 Temporal Isolation, -1 Damnation, -1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir

Mono-Blue Pickles: +3 Vesuvan Shapeshifter, +1 Pull from Eternity, +1 Spell Burst, +1 Strangling Soot, -2 Take Possession, -3 Cancel, -1 Temporal Isolation

Blue-Green Shifter: +1 Pull from Eternity, +1 Strangling Soot, +1 Spell Burst, +3 Vesuvan Shapeshifter, -2 Take Possession, -1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, -1 Careful Considerations, -1 Tendrils of Corruption, -1 Temporal Isolation

That's it for today. This article has gotten way too long already, but I wanted to write everything down while everything is still fresh in my mind and the PTQ season is just at the early stage. I hope you enjoyed my look at Time Spiral Block Constructed and my Blue-Black-White Teachings deck.

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