Hour of Need

Posted in Top Decks on May 1, 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

Those who know me well have been hounding me to work on a deck that includes Sage of Hours, an exciting new card from Journey into Nyx. My absolute favorite thing to do in Magic is take extra turns. Today, we'll be building the best Sage of Hours deck we can for the new Standard format.

Sage of Hours

Sage of Hours presents us with a tremendously powerful effect, but it also encourages us to play with less-than-optimal cards in an effort to make Sage of Hours work. Surely there's a deck that goes all-in on Sage of Hours, but that seems flimsy. I want our deck to be playing all powerful spells so that we're not limited to a gimmick.

This means we'll need to find powerful spells that happen to combo nicely with Sage of Hours. The most obvious choice is Ajani, Mentor of Heroes, as the newest Planeswalker does a good job of throwing around +1/+1 counters. More importantly, Ajani helps us find Sage of Hours and other powerful creatures while presenting our opponent with a Planeswalker that has enough loyalty to stick around for a few turns.

Master Biomancer seems like the best card to go with Sage of Hours. We can find Master Biomancer with Ajani, give it three +1/+1 counters the following turn, then cast Sage of Hours and take an extra turn right away thanks to the Biomancer. One of the biggest problems with Master Biomancer is that it encourages players to play into big Supreme Verdicts. Control players could simply wait until the player with Master Biomancer played a bunch of huge guys and then eat the whole board for a single card. Sage of Hours solves this problem by never giving the opponent the opportunity to untap and cast his or her Supreme Verdict. Things begin to get severely out of hand when multiple copies of Master Biomancer are on the table. Suddenly, it won't be unusual to cast Sage of Hours and take two full additional turns.

Ajani, Mentor of Heroes
Master Biomancer

Primeval Bounty is another card that might combo nicely with Sage of Hours. The big problem is that Primeval Bounty will be competing with Elspeth, Sun's Champion for that slot in our deck. Elspeth may not combo with Sage of Hours, but she combos very nicely with Master Biomancer and gives the deck a much-needed main-deck answer to things like Stormbreath Dragon.

Courser of Kruphix helps us find lands, generates card advantage, gains us life, and gives us a great body for its cost. It fits the theme of the deck quite nicely. We're looking for creatures that have strong abilities for their cost. Cards like Master Biomancer and Ajani, Mentor of Heroes will ensure that we have the fat necessary to go the distance. We want our creatures to have powerful effects.

Elspeth, Sun's Champion
Courser of Kruphix

Elvish Mystic is another great inclusion here. This card will enable turn-two Courser of Kruphix or turn-three Master Biomancer. Most decks dread topdecking Elvish Mystic, but in a deck like the one we're trying to build, the card will present a very reasonable body for its cost at any stage of the game.

Voice of Resurgence is still in Standard, despite what recent tournament results might have you believe. This is easily one of the most powerful cards in the format, but the support for it to be a major player in the format hasn't been there. Ajani, Mentor of Heroes does a pretty good job of offering that support. This card gives us a great defensive edge against the most aggressive strategies and it's one of the best cards we could have against decks like Esper Control and Black Devotion. It's hard to say how the new Standard environment will look with Journey into Nyx, but we can be reasonably sure that Voice of Resurgence will experience a resurgence.

Elvish Mystic
Voice of Resurgence

Still, I want to be playing more creatures in this deck. We're playing Elvish Mystic, and I feel like we probably want more three-mana creatures that we can cast on the second turn. Loxodon Smiter seems like a reasonable card here. Again, the card puts up a great defensive wall against the aggressive strategies, while presenting a threat that the control players will need to use a turn to deal with either via Supreme Verdict, Banishing Light, or Detention Sphere.

Polukranos, World Eater has proven itself to be the best four-drop available in our colors, except maybe Master of Waves. Master of Waves probably won't get a lot of devotion here; it may combo nicely with Master Biomancer, but I don't think that's a good-enough reason to include it in our deck over a giant lizard that actually eats worlds.

Loxodon Smiter
Polukranos, World Eater

We're just a few cards off of having a real deck here. If we want to be playing tricks at all, we probably want four copies of Selesnya Charm, one of the most versatile spells in the current Standard format. This card can save a lot of our creatures from the targeted removal of the format; provides an instant-speed threat, which might even be huge thanks to Master Biomancer; or deals with the Desecration Demon, Polukranos, or Obzedat on the other side of the table.

Simic Charm isn't quite as strong as Selesnya Charm, but it does a nice job protecting our creatures while also being able to do significant work as a pump spell or trick. The Unsummon portion of Simic Charm can be used with Sage of Hours and Master Biomancer to take three or more turns in a row.

Selesnya Charm
Simic Charm

We don't need to be playing four copies of Sage of Hours here. It's a weak card in the early stages of the game. The card's power comes from when we're able to combo it alongside a big Master Biomancer. We can find Sage of Hours with Ajani, Mentor of Heroes once we're looking to close the game with a few big turns.

This is what I imagine our Sage of Hours main deck will look like:

Jacob Van Lunen's Hour of Need

Download Arena Decklist

What should our sideboard look like for a deck like this?

Jace, Memory Adept seems like one of the best sideboard options here. Against the control decks, Jace, Memory Adept closes the game very fast, usually much faster than they could hope to win with something like Ætherling, which is a one-of they need to draw.

Deicide is another great sideboard option here. I don't think it will be unusual for decks to run cards like Detention Sphere and Banishing Light alongside some number of Gods. Deicide is a great answer to decks like those. The card has a chance to generate card advantage if we're lucky enough to catch an opponent with an extra God in hand, but we can always be sure that it will beat something like Detention Sphere or Banishing Light in the mana war.

Jace, Memory Adept

Arbor Colossus may not seem like the best sideboard option, but against the decks that can't kill it, it's one of the best card. Red-Green Monsters, for example, will be in a pretty rough spot against a 6/6 with reach that can get supersized while killing a Stormbreath Dragon.

The deck still seems weak to Blue Devotion, but a play set of Skylasher in the sideboard should be able to swing that matchup in our favor. We need a way to take the early flying pressure off of us so our bigger creatures can win the match. We can also combo Skylasher with Unflinching Courage to put ourselves in a nearly unlosable situation in the matchup.

Arbor Colossus

Unflinching Courage is a great card against the decks that don't have black or white spot removal. The card keeps us out of range from burn decks while speeding up our clock.

Banishing Light is a good versatile sideboard option to bring in when we have more card we want to take out than cards we want to bring in.

Unflinching Courage
Banishing Light

Let's take a look at final deck and sideboard:

Jacob Van Lunen's Hour of Need

Download Arena Decklist

This deck is a seriously powerful creation that has the ability to stand toe to toe with the most dominant decks in Standard. In the coming weeks, I'll be refocusing our attention on the Magic Online metagame. I've enjoyed our brewing exploration of Journey into Nyx over the last few weeks. Have you? Hit the forums or shoot me an email with your thoughts on this deck and the decks in last week's article.

Journey into Nyx Release Events will begin tonight at midnight. Be sure to find a local store that's running one of these exciting events and give yourself an opportunity to be among the first to get involved in a sanctioned draft that includes the latest set.

Knowledge is Power!

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