Heroic Time Walk - by Benoit Renaud
What is Heroic Time Walk?
This deck tries to win by abusing the interaction between Hardened Scales and Sage of Hours in order to generate enough +1/+1 counters to take multiple turns in a row. Although it’s theoretically possible to go off on turn 3 it’s highly unlikely. It usually gets going by turn 4 or 5.
Unlike the Jeskai Ascendancy combo deck, this can't go on indefinitely. However, having only 2 colours instead of 4 makes it much easier to get the correct mana. It’s also a lot easier to transform it into an aggro deck since most of the cards are pump spells.
The Main Cards
The main part of the combo. You need to get at least 5 counters on him each turn.
Almost a Doubling Season for G as far as we are concerned. Although it’s not required to combo off, it does make it much easier.
This is the main pump spell. If you have a Hardened Scales on the field, you will go from 0 to 5 counters by getting 2 from the heroic trigger, and then 3 from its effect.
Heroic Trigger (1) + Hardened Scales’ Effect (1) = 2
+Resolves (2) + Hardened Scales’ Effect (1) = 5
You can basically think of it as a Time Walk that also gives your creature +5/+5 until end of turn (or more based on the initial number of counters & number of Hardened Scales on the table). It’s also possible to chain two in order to get 19 counters in one go (again, assuming you have a Hardened Scales)
Heroic Trigger (1) + Hardened Scales’ Effect (1) = 2
+Heroic Trigger (1) + Hardened Scales’ Effect (1) = 4
+Resolves (4) + Hardened Scales’ Effect (1) = 9
+Resolves (9) + Hardened Scales’ Effect (1) = 19
Add the 1 power of Sage of Hours, and you just swung for 20. If that was not enough to finish your opponent, the 3 extra turns should be enough.
Although it doesn't generate as many counters as Solidarity of Heroes and won't give you an extra turn on its own, drawing 2 cards will generally allow you to keep the combo going
This does 3 things: Saves your Sage with hexproof, triggers heroic, and gives it +1/+1. That extra +1/+1 is often important when your Sage has 1 point of damage and you must remove all its counters in order to take an extra turn.
Doesn’t help the combo and it’s not our win con. It’s the backup that has an incidental synergy with almost every other card in the deck. At the very least, it will demand an answer from your opponent (most likely in the form of exile), allowing you to safely play the main combo afterwards. He is also one of the reasons why Treasure Cruise vs Dig Through Time is still a question in this deck.
The perfect hand would have 2-3 lands and a combination of the combo cards and/or ways to find them. At the very least, you should have 2 lands and either the Sage of Hour or a way to find it.
Almost a perfect hand, it’s only missing a Ranger's Guile to save your Sage. However, unless you are playing a red deck, you should be able to play the Sage on turn 2 without worrying about it getting removed.
Pretty flooded, but still a decent hand. You get to scry on your first turn, and then set up your next 5 cards on turn 2, which will likely contain parts of the combo or more cantrip. Worst case scenario you send it all to the graveyard and cast Treasure Cruise for 2 on the next turn.
A risky keep, it doesn’t have a Sage or a way to find it. Although it has everything else, I would reluctantly mulligan.
Still risky, you have the whole combo but only one land. In this case, I would keep since it’s not likely that a mulligan down to 5 will be any better, and at least the scry land should help finding a second land.
Match Ups & Sideboard:
Sideboarding is always tricky for combo decks, since every card you bring in weakens the combo. So far, the deck seems to be fine with little change except against Jeskai Wins or the Control decks.
Jeskai Wins: They have a lot of quick removal spells and fairly cheap creatures that can destroy you in a few turns (not having any removal makes a turn 3 Goblin Rabblemaster extremely scary). In this match up I usually remove most of the cantrisp in favour of Triton Tactics, Negate and War-Wing Siren in order to be able to survive the early game. Chasm Skulker is also usually removed, since it will likely get burned before being able to generate any counters.
Abzan Midrange: An early Thoughtseize is very annoying and Utter End can remove your all-important Hardened Scales, but otherwise this should be in your favour. The Abzan’s removal cost 3-4, meaning they must keep a lot of mana open in order to scare us from starting the combo. However, unlike Jeskai, they can’t burn you during your end step if you decided not to play any creatures. Abzan Charm is also almost useless against Sage of Hours, since you can simply remove all its counters to avoid removal.
Devotion To Green: They have almost no removal, allowing us to play the Sage on turn 2 without worrying too much. It’s an easy match up until they play a Hornet Queen or a Horne'st Nest, which basically stops us until we can find an Aqueous Form or a Chasm Skulker.
Jeskai Ascendency Combo: I never got to face this deck. Since neither deck has any real disruption, I’m assuming whoever gets to combo off first will win. I think the Sage of Hours combo is easier to set up and should win, but can’t really know until I try. I would most likely side out the Chasm Skulker in favour of some Negate.
His decklist from the Khans of Tarkir Gameday can be found here!