It starts off slowly. A Howling Mine here, a Boomerang there, maybe a Dictate of Kruphix. It seems amusing — who doesn't like drawing extra cards? — and playing against Eli Kassis' mono-blue deck is a novelty for the first few turns. It doesn't seem like a huge deal when the first extra turn comes; after all, a little Explore never won a game. But before you know it, the deck isn't just taking one or even two extra turns.
It's taking all the turns.
All according to plan.
“There's such a critical mass of Time Walk effects,” Kassis explained. “People aren't ready to stop what you're doing; common cards like Inquisition of Kozilek can just completely whiff against you and don't do anything to stop you from winning.”
How? The answer is slowly, but almost surely. Inspired by a list Gerald Fabiano posted in the weeks leading up to Grand Prix Pittsburgh, Kassis' and his team took the idea of controlling all the turns and ran with it. They ended up with a list containing 13 extra turn effects — including expected hits in Time Warp and Temporal Mastery alongside unexpected ones in Walk the Aeons and new addition Part the Waterveil — to take control of the game.
The overall game plan is simple: play cards that either stall the opponent (Boomerang or Spreading Seas) or set up draw engines (Howling Mine and Dictate of Kruphix) until you reach five lands. At that point, cast your first Time Warp and go crazy. While Thassa, God of the Sea provides the finishing blow about half the time, it's Battle for Zendikar addition Part the Waterveil that does the heavy lifting. Another unexpected all-star is Walk the Aeons, a card that has a pretty drastic drawback but is well worth the cost.
Eli Kassis is one of a handful of players battling with White-Blue Extra Turns this weekend, using Howling Mine effects to ensure that he never runs out of turns.
“Part the Waterveil was a big leap for this deck because it allows you to cut win conditions and roll it into your extra turns,” Kassis explained. “Plus I've won games where I didn't even have a Howling Mine, but they tapped out and I made a 6/6 and attacked for two turns. And Walk the Aeons is the best extra turn in the deck because you usually have extra lands to sacrifice and it gives you two or even three turns.”
The deck does have its struggles — combo can be tough, and they have to board in 10 cards to fight against Burn — but Kassis said the deck is a contender for the long haul.
He's not the only one who feels that way. Find a powerful-but-unrefined deck in Modern, and you'll find Zac Elsik, who chanced by and began to talk shop with Kassis. Both players have ways in mind to improve the deck, from small changes like adding more Gigadrowse to larger ones, including possibly adding Rites of Flourishing and Beast Within to changing to a red splash for Simian Spirit Guide to speed the deck up by a turn. Whichever way you take it, White-Blue Extra Turns represents some of the most fun you can have in Modern.
“Not a lot of people are prepared to deal with this deck,” Kassis said. “It very rarely fails once you start to go off. Usually, if you can survive until Turn 5, you're going to win the game.”