Obviously I play a lot of funky decks in this series. That is, after all, the point. And sometimes those decks aren't exactly great, Tier 1 decks. That's no secret, but it is part of the fun of exploring the format, because sometimes when you're exploring you find something you didn't expect that actually turns out to be a competitive deck. It's important to me that I accurately represent my decks – I don't cherry pick the matches I show you, and I don't hype decks up in an attempt to push them on you if I don't actually think they're legitimately good.
I think this week's deck is legitimately good.
I have a lot of experience with this deck both on Magic Online and in paper, and I truly believe this is a good deck. Will it win a Grand Prix? Not without positive matchups, no, though given the right string of opponents it could. Can you win multiple Friday Night Magic tournaments with this? Yes.
The goal here is straightforward: Play a few Howling Mine effects, and then cast a bunch of Time Warp effects. Draw a bunch of cards, take a bunch of turns. Tap out your opponents with Cryptic Command or Gigadrowse (the MVP of the deck), and beat them to death with an awakened land thanks to Part the Waterveil, with Elixir of Immortality keeping you from decking and also gaining a sometimes-vital five life. After sideboarding we add in a Laboratory Maniac and can just draw our entire deck to play around Slaughter Games or discard+Surgical Extraction.
Most of the cards can't really change much, but there are some flex spots. A big one is Thassa, God of the Sea. While scrying every turn is nice, the card serves to make your good matchups against midrange and control better, and does nothing in the difficult aggro matches that give you trouble. I have played more than a hundred matches with this deck over the last year, and not once have I lost Game 1 to losing both of my Part the Waterveil for whatever reason, so I don't see a net benefit to putting a card in your deck that is bad against your already-difficult matchups. Still, there is a cost to cutting Thassa, God of the Sea and/or Jace Beleren — you have to be very careful with your Part the Waterveil. While you can freely cast the first, the second mustbe saved to win the game since the card exiles itself as part of its resolution.
Speaking of cards that aren't worth it, let's discuss a few other cars that I've seen pop up in Taking Turns lists from time to time: Remand and Ancestral Vision. I think both are pretty bad in the deck, for this simple reason: They don't help you win the game. This is more true of Remand than Ancestral Vision, but the issue is this: As a very specific kind of combo deck, you have to balance cards that "win" the game (extra draws and extra turns) versus cards that help you get there. At first glance both Remand and Ancestral Vision fulfill that second requirement since Remand is great at not losing and Ancestral Vision is great at helping you get there, but upon closer inspection both have glaring problems.
Waiting till turn five or six to go off is cutting it close. Even if you chain together a few turns and land drops, sometimes you need the top card or two of your deck to be a specific thing. If I'm sitting at seven mana and need a Time Warp NOW and I draw a Remand, I'm going to have a bad time. As good as that card would have been on turn two, it doesn't help me continue my combo. The same is true of Ancestral Vision, which is exciting when suspended on turn one but the most miserable topdeck imaginable.
My solution is to run something that is close to Remand on turn two but much better later: Spreading Seas. Not only does this sometimes slow your opponents down as much as Remand, it cycles in the late game for the low cost of two mana, which is crucial to preventing the deck from fizzling as it goes off. It even has the side benefit of turning your Radiant Fountains into Islands after you've gained life so you can maximize blue mana for Gigadrowse or Cryptic Command.
Both decisions can be summed up as this: If it doesn't help me win the game the turn I draw it, I don't want it in my deck.
A few other tips and tricks
Thanks for reading and watching, and I hope you enjoy the deck!