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The Casual Monster: Siege of Hours


Hello Casual Monsters and welcome to another edition of The Casual Monster where we focus on Johnny style kitchen table decks to play both offline and online in the MTGO "Just for Fun" room.

It pretty much goes without saying that taking extra turns is one of the biggest advantages you can take in this game. You can secure your wincon, regain the upper hand and completely shut down your opponent. As someone who has played Time Walk recursion once upon a time, I remember how stupid ridiculous it was to team up Time Walk cards like Timetwister and Regrowth. The extra turn became extra extra turns very quickly. Wizards has teased us with Time Walkish cards in the past, but they all have had huge catches and conditions that ultimately made them unplayable. But then came Sage of Hours. Sage of Hours is not a true Time Walk replacement and it has a ton of vulnerabilities, (e.g. dies to Doom Blade). It also requires a build-around. This guy had me cranking my combo gears trying to figure out a way to go infinite. Was infinite possible with Sage of Hours? Maybe.

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Thanks to the low mana cost, Sage of Hours can be cast easily. He fires off an extra turn by shedding five +1/+1 counters and has Heroic built in. I wanted to believe that Sage of Hours just needed a good support team so upon the Journey into Nyx spoiler reveal, I started working on it.

Theros Build

During the Theros block I tried to build a deck using counter generating effects but just could not reliably fire off Sage of Hours without a long build up and very clunky execution.

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The Ordeal cards helped generate counters, but I had to attack with Sage of Hours to get them which made him too vulnerable. Bow of Nyela generated tokens but just wasn't fast enough even when I worked in Kiora's Follower. Despite Ajani, Mentor of Heroes's powerful effects, I could not load up enough counters to make Sage of Hours fire reliably repeatedly without a huge complex board state.

 

Khans of Tarkir Build

Then Khans of Tarkir was released and I saw the chance of an enabler in Hardened Scales. The counter adding enchantment did some heavy lifting for me, as did the counter producing Abzan Charm, but that put me into four colors. I even tried to work in all 5 colors and experiment with both the Abzan Charm and Jeskai Ascendancy, using the Retraction Helix and zero cost artifact combo. Fetches helped the Theros Sylvan Caryatid do some mana fixing, but I felt it still had too many moving parts.

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With Khans of Tarkir cards added, Turn 12 was the earliest I could reasonably put Sage of Hours into repeat mode. It had too many moving parts and dependencies. Surviving that long in a deck with such a singular build is almost impossible. I was constantly being steamrolled by Whip of Erebos Siege Rhinos and token armies. I needed Sage of Hours to potentially fire off on Turn 4 or 5 and then go infinite on the next free turn. It was impossible to get more than a few extra turns out of my boy.

 

Fate Reforged Build

Then the Fate Reforged spoilers dropped and my mouth watered with so many +1/+1 counter generating options. Bolster cards were my first focus; Combined with Hardened Scales, you could at least get one turn quickly. Heck, Sandsteppe Mastodon does all the work as far as counter generation, but the huge casting cost and one time use made it impossible to cash in more than one extra turn. I focused on the bolster cards in my three color niche: Blue, White, and Green. I of course needed blue for Sage of Hours, white for protection spells like Feat of Resistance (and if possible, utilize Ajani again), and Green for Hardened Scales.

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The testing went well, but Bolster takes away the ability to target the Time Walk Lord when mana dorks were present and it was still too slow. I was disheartened. There had to be a way. I needed something within my color base that could target Sage of Hours and fire counters every turn. Then Citadel Siege slapped me accross the face. You don't need bolster.

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Hello. With Hardened Scales and two Citadel Sieges, you can churn out 6 +1/+1 counters each turn. Not bad. Match up some of the spells that we have tried before with some delay tactics and you can eek out a free turn every other turn until you get the second Citadel Siege online. If I partner this with Ajani, Mentor of Heroes, I don't even need Hardened Scales and the second Citadel Siege. Okay, now we are talking!

 

The Combo

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There it is: the three card infinite-turn-trick-pony that can be fired off on Turn 4. Infinite turns are fine and all, but we still needed a way to win. We can't just go forever, we would mill ourselves out! Ajani, Mentor of Heroes can't really defend himself so he will need to be played last. Sage of Hours is very vulnerable to removal, so we will need to protect him. Through all of this we need to quickly drawing cards to ensure the combo happens.

A few Hornet Nest will slow down the creature barrage and help protect Ajani, Mentor of Heroes. You don't really care about life lost since once you fire, you fire forever, but the Order of Heliod can buy us time if we need it. Marang River Prowler would act as a great decoy if needed with come back abilities, and Ordeal of Thassa can help generate card draw. Once infinite, Sage of Hours can do the heavy beating himself if we drop an Aqueous Form on him.

 

I have access to the Fate Reforged Beta on Magic Online, so I was able to test this deck out. It went very well. I was able to go infinite turn 6 in one game, and then on turn 5 the next game. The unblockable prowler was perfect to bait removal. Since I had green permanents in play with my mana dorks and enchantments, I was able to bring him back as needed. You still get devastated by Mono Black thanks to Thoughtseize, and even a sloppy counter will ruin your day. But with the right sideboard these will have less of an impact and make the setbacks more recoverable. The key is to setup your machine before you drop the Sage of Hours. The perfect opening hand looks like this.

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This hand, with an additional land draw on turn 2, 3 or 4, lets you go infinite on Turn 4. Since this hand happens once in a blue moon, there is a lot of support built into the deck in the form of Feat of Resistance and aura effects. You are pretty vulnerable to discard and counter spells, but in the casual "Just for Fun" rooms on Magic Online, most people avoid those builds anyway.

 

Conclusion

It doesn't need to be good, it doesn't need to be perfect, and it requires draws from magical Christmas land, but going infinite with Sage of Hours on Turn 4 is possible. While the turn 4 magic only happened once, I was able to go infinite in about 60% of my games which is really awesome. This type of card combo casual monster has the potential to do something that doesn't happen often in Magic Online: start a conversation with your opponent in the chat box.

If you need me, I'll be in the Just for Fun room playing with my new casual monster.

- DrYoYo

Twitter: @dryoyo - MTGO ID: Docman


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