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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Apr 06 2007 3:36pm
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Black Eyes

Pete Jahn

I started goofing around with Time Spiral Constructed a few weeks ago.  I know a couple people who have qualified for for the next Pro Tour, which will be Time Spiral Constructed, and playtesting for that is in full swing.  I won't share any of that data, but I can tell you about my online adventures in the format.  Specifically, I'll talk about my Black Eyes deck.

A caveat:  I am still drafting Time Spiral whenever I get packs, so I have not been buying a lot of singles.  I don't have a large TS-PC collection, yet, but I have one or two copies of many of the good cards.  I decided to build with what I could, find subs for what i haven't got, and maybe feed a couple TIX into the MTGOTradersBOT.  

I decided that I would not be playing in the eight-man queues or TS constructed PEs, yet.  That meant I needed to find out what was being played in the casual play Tournament Practice room.  That was the metagame I wanted to win against.  To find out, I threw together a very basic RG beats deck and started swinging. 


At that point (a couple weeks ago), I found myself losing to decks with one card - Calciderm.   White Weenie, and more mid-ranged decks, all either brought in or relied on the color-shifted reprint of Blastoderm.  (Balstoderm is a paper only, old time card.)   An untargetable 5/5 is pretty good.  No wonder it runs a couple TIX, despite being an uncommon that also appears in some Precons.

I remember playing with, and against, Balstoderm back in the day.  Blastoderm was far harder to stop in years past, because creatures were smaller in those days.  Blastoderm was printed in Masques Block.  Masgues block was filled with 2/2 creatures for three mana and 3/3 creatures for five mana.   However, Evil Eye of Orms-by-Gore was in the base set at that point, and it was a techie control deck answer to Blastoderm.


 I wondered if I could make it work again.

I had been working on a mono-black control deck, but I didn't have the cards for the complete deck.  For example, I had one (Extripate), two Damnations, two Stupors and three copies of The Rack.  I did, however, have a foil Tendrils of Corruption and a foil Sudden Death that I wanted to play.  I jotted down a decklist, then compared it to what I actually owned.  It was pretty clear that I needed a win condition - and I thought again about Evil Eyes of Orm-by-Gore.  

Evil Eye of Orms-by-Gore

Evil Eyes

They are old school, like me.

They are actually pretty hard to kill in this format.

They block nearly everything, except Spectral Force, fliers and shadow, and live.  They also tend to connect, since they can really only be blocked by Wall of Roots. 

Most importantly, they were (and are) cheap.  I was already ordering some cards from MTGOTraders, and since I like to order in nice round numbers, I added a couple to complete my playset. 

The drawback is significant, but there are other Eyes in the block. 

 I started with the basic idea that I wanted to create a mono-black control deck, built around discard, The Rack and removal.  The Eyes were there basically to provide additional creature removal / blocking, and as a secondary path to victory.   I threw in all the cards I had and wanted, and had this list.

That's only 54 cards.  Not exactly legal.   I opened my collection, set the filters to show only black and artifact Time Spiral block cards and started filling in holes.  I brought in my one (Extripate).  I added an Avatar of Woe.  I tried a Roiling Horror.  I decided to add another method of dealing with ground pounders, and threw in Assassinate - and quickly yanked it back out.   (I'll post a more refined decklist later on.)

I threw together a sideboard, with Phthisis to control fatties, Curse of the Cabal and other random cards I wanted to try.  I threw in a couple other random oddities and trotted off to the tourney practice room.

Versus White Weenie

I have played a couple matches against this deck, but it seems to be fading.   White Weenie comes out strong, and gets some fast beats.  However, if you can get a bunch of Swamps into play, a couple Tendrils of Corruption can recover a lot of the lost life totals pretty quickly.  Evil Eyes block most things quite effectively - unless the opponent enchants the Eyes with Temporal Isolation.  The Funeral Charms are quite important here, because they kill Soltari Priests, which can otherwise be a problem - but not quite enough of a probelm to justify wasting a Tendrils or Sudden Death on them early in the game.   You are playing a long game here, and one that you should win easily enough.  An Eye or two forces them to overcommit, at which point Damnation clears the board and you can often start beating with Phyrexian Totem afterwards.  The Rack will get in some damage, because WW tends to empty it's hand.

On and off I have tried running a Stuffy Doll in the sideboard.  Stuffy Doll is fine against Calciderm, but it is pretty much useless against most of the rest of WW's creatures:  those with flanking, flying or shadow.  It doesn't matter, though, you usually win this matchup pretty easily.

Versus RG Rahda Beats

RG beats is a fair matchup.   The main problems are a fast Spectral Force and Mwonvuli Acid-Moss.   The Spectral Force is a  problem until you get eight Swamps in play and kill it with Tendrils, or until you can Damnation it away.  Acid-Moss, on the other hand, provides your opponent a jump up, and sets you back at the same time.  If an Acid-Moss resolves turn three or four you will probably lose.  If not, you probably win.

Save your Funeral Charms for Scryb Sprites, unless you can pull the last card from an opponent's hand early. 

I sideboard in four Phthisis, and take out the Stupors and The Racks, because this game rarely comes down to Rack damage - especailly if the RG deck runs Harmonize.   Whenever possible, I suspend Phthisis on turn two - at the very worst, it keeps the opponent from playing any creatures turns two through five, which is still a big plus.   

I have also started bringing in Enslave from the sideboard.   

At present, I generally win this matchup, unless I get hit with multiple Acid-Mosses, or unless the opponent runs the LD variant.  That variant runs Boom // Bust, and tries to drop a fattie, then kill all the land to prevent its opponents from dealing with it.  Some of these builds also run Greater Gargadon, which invalidates both Phthisis and Enslave.  They simply sacrifice whatever creature you target to a suspended Greater Gargadon in response, and your spells fizzle.  (Okay, technically they are countered on resolution because of lack of targets.)  Phthisis and Enslave are game winning cards - and if they don't resolve, you don't win.

Versus Wild Pair

The Wild Pair decks come in several forms.  

Wild Pair

The red green versions are a combination of RG beats and Wild Pair combinations.  These decks are deadly - I will probably write about my version next week.   Black Eyes can beat them, but it requires some luck.  You really want to connect with Stupor early, and get lucky with Damnations.  If you can get ahead on creatures, Eye beatdown really does kill them.  Being able to kill things with Tendrils helps, too, so fear Acid-Moss.

The UWG versions are a bit more of a problem.  These decks run more card drawing and instants, so the Rack is less likely to do any damage.  I side it out in most cases, especially if they have Aeon Chronicler.  The bounce (e.g. Riftwing Cloudskate and so forth) are not serious problems, but they can slow you down.  A worse problem is Momentary Blink, which not only can make the Cloudskate bounce additional cards, but Blink also counters the Tendrils, Enslaves and Phthisis which you need resolve if you are to have any chance to win.  It is a tough matchup, but your beats are faster than theirs.  Just keep swinging.  It's winnable, but not pleasant.  I wish I owned more Extirpates, because when I get them, I'll try sideboarding them for this matchup.  It becomes a whole lot better if you can remove Whitemane Lion and/or Momentary Blink from the game. 

Wild Slivers is an even worse matchup.  Wild Slivers runs a bunch of slivers, most notably Dormant Sliver, and Wild Pair.  Once they start dropping slivers, Dormant Sliver will draw them a raft of cards.  Dormant Sliver, surprisingly, is the card you most want to kill.  The Rack, in this matchup, is pretty much useless, since they will quickly refill thier hand via Slivers.  The card you really want to resolve is Damnation, but be careful, since they also run Mystic Snake, and can search out the snake at any time via Wild Pair and Whitemane Lion.   It is not at all a good matchup, and I have started running Plague Slivers in the sideboard just to ombat Wild Silvers.

Versus UB Control

This matchup is either really good or really bad, and that tends to vary match by match.  I'm not sure why - it could be variances in builds, or it could be that some UB draws are devastating and others uninspired.  You want to beat down quickly, where possible, because they will outdraw you in the late game.  Aim the Funeral Charms at their hands early and often, and use the Sudden Deaths to kill Teferi and morphs.  Be careful targetting Morphs, however, as some of those may be Willbenders, and that Sudden Death may rebound onto your creatures.   Like the UWG Wild Pair matchup, you just keep swinging, and swing with the Totem when feasible.  It will win games - unless they happen to be sitting on a Psionic Blast.  

For sideboarding I have brought in all kinds of stuff.  The Plague Slivers, usually, and Phthisis, because suspend can help you force them to counter too much some turn.   Withered Wretch can beat, and can eat Mystical Teachings.  Any early beaters help, as can Roiling Horror in the late game.  Overall, though, their cards are better than yours.

Evolving the Deck

I have been playing around with the deck a lot over the last weeks.  It is fun, and interesting.  Here's my current build.

4 Evil Eye of Orms-by-Gore
4 Evil Eye of Urborg
4 Sudden Death
4 Tendrils of Corruption
4 Funeral Charm
2 Damnation
2 Stupor
1 Extirpate
1 Roiling Horror
3 The Rack
3 Phyrexian Totem
Prismatic Lens
2 Stuffy Doll

19 Swamp
4 Terramorphic Expanse

I have been working with the mana.  Early play showed that the deck sometimes stalled with two land and two Totems in hand - and the deck really needs to hit five and six mana.  The Prismatic Lenses proved necessary.  I am currently testing the Terramorphic Expanses.  In theory, they should help me get more Swamps into play early, but cut down on land draws in the late game.  I haven't decided if that is are worth the tapped-land problems.  I have also played an Urborb, Tomb of Yawgmoth on occassion, but found the benefits marginal and the having to choose which type of black mana a Swamp produces a pain.  However, I will probably add one, both because it helps Expanses and because they allow Funeral Charm to occassionally make an Evil Eye unblockable. 

I also want to try Twisted Abominations in place of the Lenses.  Late game, an Abomination would be more interesting than a Lens, but this deck is mana intensive, and the Lens, unlike a land cycler, does provide acceleration.  Of course, with an Eye in play, Twisty cannot beat, so that's not great.

If I had them, I would play four Damnations and four Stupors.  They would replace the Stuffy Dolls, which are either killed (Sudden Death, etc.), bounced or simply do nothing to fliers, shadow dudes, Timbermare and tramplers.  The Rack is also merely filling holes at present: most decks can either draw enough cards to get out of Rack range, or just lose to your other cards when playing off the tops of their decks. 

I have experimented with having the deck splash other colors.  I would like to add red, for Disintegrate but I don't own one.  I fully expect to draft one, eventually, since I will always first pick it.  Until then, however, I am not willing to shell out the TIX.  I would rather save up for more Damnations.  The red splash - which could come from a single Mountain via the Terramorphic Expanses and the Lenses - would also allow me to run Void, and sideboard (Rough and Tumble).

I have also tried splashing for Aeon Chronicler.  The Chronicler is insane - but I just bought mine a couple days ago, and I haven't had time to test him much. 

Finally, since this is the Black Eyes deck, I have kept the Evil Eyes.  I think they are the best option for this sort of aggro-control, but they may not be the best once I get up to four Damnations and four Stupors.  At that point, Sengir Nosferatu may be a better win condition.  It gets past a lot of problems, and dodges removal even better than the fat butt Eyes.

In any case, it is a fun deck to play, and - except for the Damnations - relatively cheap to build.  Give it a try.


"one million words" on MODO and in the forums.


About Buttwhiskers by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sun, 03/02/2008 - 03:04
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

Hey Buttwhiskers,


Are you planning on finishing your distribution over at GCBC? Everyone is still waiting for their coffee they paid for and never received from you. You should probably do the right thing and return everyones money that is still outstanding.


Temporal Extortion by one million words at Thu, 04/12/2007 - 07:41
one million words's picture

I have tried it. It falls somewhere between discard and Enslave. Enslave seems better, and I don't think you really have room for both.

Buttwhiskers?? by Lythand at Tue, 04/10/2007 - 17:49
Lythand's picture

Interesting name..Buttwhiskers :)

Another good job peter. I like your articles both here and SCG. Keep up the great work

Question. WOuld it be worth putting a termoral extortion in the deck?

by ButtWhiskers at Tue, 04/10/2007 - 12:29
ButtWhiskers's picture

Au contraire, Mr. Anonymous... Darkness may be countered, and Sudden Spoiling is much more versatile. Instantly and without recourse the opponent's critters lose all abilities as well as becoming 0/2 with Sudden Spoiling. You don't have to worry about Spell Burst, Cancel, Dismal Failure, Mana Tithe or a Voidmage preventing the effect. They can't sacrifice themselves, or tap if they have vigilance and were attacking untapped. In the Time Spiral Block meta right now, there is a good chance of dealing with a U, W, or UW deck that would do just that and screw up your plans. My current TSB build is a RGB deck with a bunch of slivers, 4 Sulfur Elementals, and 14 split second spells. Uncounterable is hard to beat.

by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sun, 04/08/2007 - 07:44
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

I dont think sudden spoiling is good unless you combine it with rough/tumble to wipe out their board.
If you use it as a darkness, it's just basicly that.. a darkness, which really isnt great.

And I really think Urborg shouldnt be in here, cause the chance that it helps your opponent is too big.

fun deck by sliver heir at Sat, 04/07/2007 - 02:52
sliver heir's picture

love the deck. i'm currently running something rather close to it but in std. used it to try and get an inv torney invite and just missed out. was going to write about it to... maybe still will if it wins me something but as always it seams im on base again and don't have time to write. would recommend black discard to any one looking looking for a deck thats fun to play and slightly of the beaten path that when played right can in toe to toe with all the tier ones. as always good writing pete and i hope to read more soon.

Another Thought by ButtWhiskers at Fri, 04/06/2007 - 17:39
ButtWhiskers's picture

You might think about adding Sudden Spoiling the the mono-black version of this. It is almost as good as a Time Walk when facing fast creatures - you attack in face of their horde, knowing that their next attack is worthless (and uncounterable...).

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