The first time I saw Daniel Wong playing this deck, it was at Grand Prix Vegas in 2017. I had heard of a Taking Turns player doing well in the room, so I wanted to get the deck on camera since I knew people would want to see it. What I didn't expect was the first thing I noticed about Wong's innovative deck – it was covered in four – yes, four – layers of sleeves. Now that's commitment to protecting your cards, though I imagine it makes shuffling a nightmare.
We all had a good laugh about it, but Wong got the last laugh on everyone – he made the Top 8 of GP Vegas with the deck, putting the Taking Turns archetype firmly on the map once and for all. I've toyed around with mono-blue versions in the past, but after seeing a string of solid finishes by Wong at the GP level – including a Top 16 finish and another Top 8 near-miss last weekend at GP Hartford – I decided to go straight to the source, quad-sleeved and all.
And that's the story of how I ended up taking all of the turns.
This is certainly one of the more unique versions of the Taking Turns archetype – aptly named because it aims to win by stringing together a bunch of Time Warp effects with Howling Mine or Dictate of Kruphix in play – in that this version runs fewer traditional extra turns and instead opts for more early-game interaction to get it there. That makes "going off" a bit more stressful than some of the other versions, but also means you're more likely to actually reach the point of the game in which you can cast Time Warp.
Much of that goes to the black cards in the deck. Nothing slows down the early game more than Fatal Push and Collective Brutality, and this version of the deck very rarely runs into the problem of dying on turn four with a bunch of five and six-drops in hand. The mana base even manages to be somewhat pain-free, with just a couple of fetch lands and a shock land hurting you – and Gemstone Caverns can sometimes luck (counter) you into a winning position before the game even starts.
The sideboard is where the black really shines. You can't really overstate the importance of having access to multiple Collective Brutality after sideboarding, plus Surgical Extraction and Thoughtseize give you a different angle to attack decks besides just countermagic.
Other than the black splash, which really does change quite a bit about how the deck players, things are fairly straightforward – you interact in the first few turns of the game, set up your draw engine in the midgame with either a Howling Mine or Jace, and then proceed to take a bunch of turns, whether that's actual turns with Time Warps or "virtual" turns with things like Exhaustion, Cryptic Command and Gigadrowse.
I'm pretty sure the Humans matchup is unwinnable for Taking Turns, but the deck has game against almost everything else in the format. Decks that want to beat you with countermagic get trounced by an end-step Gigadrowse, while aggro decks find themselves hard-pressed to kill you through your interaction before you start chaining together turns and tap effects. I'll also add that this is one of the most enjoyable decks you can play in Modern, and it's not weak to any specific type of sideboard hate, which is something that very few combo decks can claim.
Thanks for reading,