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The Gauntlet of History: Part 5

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

The Gauntlet is now entering Time Spiral block, my all-time favorite block. I love it because of how complex it is. Unlike the other expansions that are dense in obvious synergies, Time Spiral forces you to figure things out rather than give you obvious deck ideas like Goblins, artifacts, devotion, graveyard interactions, etc. They printed so many mechanics and weird cards within the same block that you had to mix mechanics to eventually build strategies that work.

Dragonstorm

You could say that Dragonstorm is an obvious build-around card, but in its first printing, the card never saw play. It was Seething Song and Rite of Flame that made it possible, and those came from sets outside Time Spiral block, making it not so obvious.

The deck ceased to exist when Seething Song rotated out with the release of Tenth Edition, but it came back with Spinerock Knoll in Lorwyn.

Makahito Mihara Top 8’d Worlds in 2006 when Time Spiral came out, but the deck remained dominant throughout the whole block. I’m actually using Mathieu Le Montagner’s list that he used to Top 8 France Nationals a little before Tenth Edition became legal.

The main deck stayed the same for over a year. Only the number of storage lands increased, presumably to fight blue mirrors (including other Dragonstorm decks). The sideboard uses cards from later sets like Planar Chaos and Future Sight.

It is very impressive to have a Standard deck interact and go off consistently on turn 4—you must have this deck in your gauntlet!

B/G Elves

I was never particularly impressed by this version of Elves, but I wanted to have at least 1 Elves deck and 1 Tarmogoyf deck. Why not both in the same 75?

I chose Sam Black’s main deck from U.S. Nationals in 2008. I changed the sideboard slightly to be less hateful on Faeries, another popular deck at the time, and added more generic cards like Krosan Grip and Mind Shatter. For reference, I cut the 4 Squall Line along with the 3 Sudden Spoiling, the purpose of which I absolutely don’t remember—only Sam was running them.

It’s pretty hilarious that Tarmogoyf was at its best in an Elves deck, but in reality, this black-green strategy has more in common with “The Rock” than an actual green swarm Elf deck. It plays powerful black disruption paired with great creatures that happen to have synergy.

Faeries

Faeries was the deck that made me realize what kind of player I am, and what strategy I would enjoy and with which I would be best: tempo. From there on out, whenever there was a tempo-based deck in a format, I would play it as much as possible.

This is Kenji Tsumura’s list from Worlds in 2008. I was initially going to take whatever PV played since he was the Faeries master, but his list from that Worlds Top 8 was a little weird and not exactly streamlined. I’m not saying it was wrong, but it was clearly tweaked for the specific metagame he expected back then, and I’m looking for the cleanest 75 to put in my gauntlet.

You’re probably asking yourself why this deck has Shards of Alara cards in it while the Elf deck has Time Spiral. That’s because Faeries ended up a lot more dominant in the second format in which it was legal. The decks in the Alara format were a lot slower, hence weaker to the Faeries strategy, while in Time Spiral they were faster and more varied.

It’s funny that I played Faeries much more with Time Spiral, and the deck was functionally better, but not as dominant. It had Ancestral Vision and Rune Snag in it, which had to be replaced with Jace Beleren and Broken Ambitions—format context is big!

Vendilion Clique is missing from the list above and that was the case for just about every list, since it was pretty bad in the mirror. Trading with Bitterblossom tokens was not exactly where you wanted to be. I’m debating adding them to the sideboard since it’s a great card and has applications in many other matchups that it could face in the Gauntlet—Puppeteer Clique or Liliana Vess will probably be the first cards to go.

Join me next week for the 6th and last piece of the Gauntlet of History!

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