Dig Through Time

Posted in Perilous Research on September 11, 2014

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Welcome back to the second week of Khans of Tarkir previews here at Perilous Research. Khans of Tarkir is shaping up to be one of the most exciting Magic expansions ever. The return of fetch lands, powerful multicolor rares and mythic rares, and a host of unique card effects are sure to make this one of the most successful Magic sets in memory. Today, we'll be discussing my favorite card thus far from Khans of Tarkir.

"How do I win at Magic?"

I remember asking my older brother and his friends when I was very young. My brother explained the concept of card advantage to me. We could win some games by simply overrunning our opponent with aggression, but most games would be won by the player who used our cards most efficiently. We're slowly working our way toward victory when we kill two things with one card, draw multiple cards, or prevent our opponent from getting multiple cards from a single card.

Art by Ryan Yee

This one piece of advice that I was given nearly twenty years ago has remained the cornerstone of playing Magic successfully.

Throughout Magic's history, some of the most successful decks have pushed this strategy to its limits. Players use efficient removal and countermagic to control the board and stay alive. Once the pressure is lifted, the card-advantage strategy uses cards that draw or search for multiple cards. Eventually, the control player finds him- or herself in a situation where the opponent has nothing in play and nothing left in hand. From there, it's pretty easy to win the game.

Recently, Standard's best card-advantage tools have been Underworld Connections and Sphinx's Revelation. These two cards have been responsible for the best decks in Standard over the last year. Many players are rejoicing that these powerful engines are leaving Standard with Khans of Tarkir. Meanwhile, control mages are wondering how they'll get ahead once the dust has cleared in Khans of Tarkir Standard.

Sure, Jace's Ingenuity is great card, but it lacks the same game-breaking power that we get from a card like Sphinx's Revelation or Underworld Connections. We need to dig deep to find the perfect card for the situation and more. We need Dig Through Time.

Dig Through Time finds precisely what we need, precisely what we want, and puts it directly into our hand. The seemingly high mana cost is offset by the ability to delve away our graveyard. Generally speaking, we want to cast our card draw after our other spells, using our mana to efficiently control the board before taking over the game. Dig Through Time trains us to use our card-advantage spells as they were meant to be used. We can't simply sculpt our hand when it's convenient with this, we need to fight for it. Removal spells, countermagic, and fetch lands are battle scars that earn us the right to cast Dig Through Time and take over the game.

Dig Through Time can chain with itself, finding another card and another Dig Through Time to set up a perfect game plan. The second copy already has a reduced cost because of the copy of Dig Through Time in our graveyard and the other spell found.

When there's no pressure late in the game, we can cast Dig Through Time without delving much and it stills puts us much further ahead.

The most obvious way to fill our graveyard is to play a lot of spells. Charms, burn, and countermagic trade with opponents' cards while working us up to the point where we can delve our way to victory.

The Sultai have other plans, though. We can turbocharge our Dig Through Time by using cards like Sidisi, Brood Tyrant and Sultai Ascendancy. We need to be affecting the board aggressively for this strategy to work, though. We don't want to be spending cards to fill our graveyard so we can use our graveyard to draw extra cards—that would just be a whole lot of work to break even. We need other cards that care about the graveyard and cards that fill the graveyard without spending additional cards. Satyr Wayfinder, for example, seems like a great way to aggressively fill our graveyard while grinding us ahead on card advantage in the process.

Personally, I'm most excited about playing this in a deck with tons of spells and Narset, Enlightened Master. The prospect of casting Dig Through Time for free is something that I can really get behind. Let's build a deck!

Narset, Enlightened Master seems like she has a ton of potential in a deck that's almost entirely spells. Hexproof means she should dodge the majority of the format's removal, and attacking safely shouldn't be a problem if we're playing enough removal of our own. We can even attack if we don't have the removal spell in hand, because we'll be casting free spells before our opponent can block. And we'll probably be able to clear the way with whatever we find.

Jeskai Charm is one of my favorite cards from Khans of Tarkir. It's a removal spell, it kills Planeswalkers, and it can randomly win us races that we wouldn't have a chance in otherwise.

Lightning Strike is one of the most efficient removal spells in Standard and it combos nicely with the first strike on Narset, Enlightened Master. Magma Spray is similarly efficient and also combos with Narset's first strike.

We'll need countermagic to prevent our opponent from playing cards that we can't efficiently deal with in a one-for-one fashion. Nullify seems excellent at two mana in the new Standard. Dissolve is easily the best counterspell available, and Mindswipe counters a spell while also getting us a bit closer to victory or killing a Planeswalker.

We also need to be able to get Courser of Kruphix off the table. Deicide will likely have a lot of targets in the new Standard and it should definitely be a main-deck consideration. Suspension Field deals with Courser of Kruphix and whatever other fatties our opponent might present. Banishing Light is a catch-all answer to whatever problem might be on the table.

End Hostilities gives us the valuable wrath effect we'll need to start things over if the opponent gets a few creatures out on the battlefield.

Here's the list once we mash it all together.

Narset Control by Jacob Van Lunen

Download Arena Decklist

This deck is the truest control deck we can imagine for the new Standard. The deck simply survives to the point where it can cast Narset, Enlightened Master and then wins the game by having access to many more cards than the opponent. I'll be sleeving this up at the earliest possible opportunity and I wouldn't be surprised if similar strategies enjoyed success at the upcoming Pro Tour.

Dig Through Time is Standard's latest and greatest top-end card-advantage spell. We can expect this card to be the cornerstone of some of the most powerful Standard strategies over the next eighteen months. We're less than two weeks away from the Khans of Tarkir Prerelease and stores around the world are already at maximum capacity. Don't miss your opportunity to play with exciting new cards like Dig Through Time! Be sure to contact your local game store to reserve a spot at the Khans of Tarkir Prerelease!

Knowledge is power!

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