Simic Turns Historic Deck Guide: Letting the Opponent Play is Overrated
Hello everyone! Today I’m giving you a deck guide to one of the few decks I made day 1 of Strixhaven, but has been performing well for me since: Simic Turns. Styled similarly to the Nexus of Fate decks in the past, Simic Turns looks to take a lot of turns in a row to keep accumulating an on board advantage into a win. Before I continue, let’s take a look at this beauty.
Assuming I kept track properly, I went 8-3 with the first version of this deck in top 100 mythic which is a rather respectable record! Since I changed the deck around, I haven’t kept track as I bounce around decks too much, but I have definitely been winning way more than losing.
Turns has a powerful and proactive game plan: ramp, land something on the board, and take a bunch of turns. It’s biggest upside is that it’s really hard to go bigger than this game plan as any card that generates advantage or a clock can suddenly turn into a deadly force given enough time. With that, the most crucial cards in the deck (beyond the Time Walk effects) are God-Eternal Kefnet and Nissa, Who Shakes the World.
Kefnet, like Wilderness Reclamation in Nexus, is the 4 drop payoff we get from a turn 2 ramp spell. Also like Wilderness Reclamation, I think Kefnet is the most important card in this deck. This deck relies on getting a critical mass on Time Walk effects to end the game once you get the chain rolling. That being said, if you have a Kefnet and draw into a Time Walk, that could be enough for the chain by itself. Despite being a 4/5 Flying body (which is a respectable stat line), it can single handedly win games drawing into a Time Walk. This is further compounded with one of the best cards added to Historic with Strixhaven, Brainstorm.
A very common line is to play Kefnet with 5 mana and holding up one mana for Brainstorm. When they presumably don’t kill your Kefnet since there’s not much commonly played removal that can kill it, you Brainstorm, put a Time Walk effect on top of your library, and just win the game from there. If it sounds simple, it’s because it kind of is. Kefnet is easily the card that has won me the most games. I would like to play 4, but I feel that drawing multiple copies is pretty bad as it’s very hard to get rid of already so the excess copies are very likely to be dead. We do have Brainstorm to help mitigate this issue, but I rather use Brainstorms for more value than pitching dead Kefnets. That being said the card might be so good that the risk is worth it.
If we can’t establish a Kefnet, the backup plan is to just Nissa the opponent. Nissa is also an amazing threat because of how well it works with the rest of the deck. A very common line is to wait till 7 mana (with a Breeding Pool out), play a Nissa to untap the Breeding Pool, and play a Time Walk. From there, you can just play the rest of your hand because Nissa is a fair and balanced card. If you have a few Time Walks in hand already, Nissa can very easily win the game by herself as well.
Beyond the core cards, everything else more or less abets the general gameplan. We have ramp to accelerate our cards, Brainstorm for consistency, and Narset and Tamiyo for card advantage and consistency. The deck is very linear which is nice since you always know what you’re working towards with the downside there’s no room (or need) to pivot plans.
MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING
Since we’re still so early in Strixhaven Historic, I’ll just go over the common matchups I’ve been seeing. If a matchup you’re curious about isn’t listed here, try to follow my thought process on how I board and you can likely get a good sideboard plan together.
As a final note, the 3 Wall of Blossoms in the sideboard is the dedicated anti-creature sideboard card. I’ve been really stuck between these and Haze of Pollen so you have to decide which you’d prefer. When I was playing I was facing a lot of Red based decks with Bonecrusher Giant which made Haze useless, but Wall good. Feel free to keep interchanging them when you see fit.
|+3 Wall of Blossoms||-2 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales|
|+1 Narset, Parter of Veils||-2 Brainstorm|
This boarding always felt weird to me, but I can’t think of a better plan to tackle Auras. We definitely want Narset to help stymie the card draw from the Spiritdancer effects so that’s a lock. I believe we want Wall of Blossoms as it can act as a pseudo fog that you can proactively deploy and net a card off of. Getting rid of Tamiyo is obvious, she’s much too slow, but cutting Brainstorm has felt pretty awkward. On one hand, the matchup can be very reliant on the opening turns and Brainstorm could end up being too slow, but you also need to have a good set up if you’re looking to go over Auras.
All that being said, I’ve found all the other pieces to be too important and trimming Brainstorms felt appropriate with this sideboard configuration. If you think cutting Brainstorm is ludicrous, go with one Wall of Blossoms and one Narset and just cut Tamiyo, I could also see that being correct. That being said, like any deck in Historic, it’s extremely hard to beat Auras best starts, but our game plan works quite well against them as there’s a great chance we can win from functionally any board state.
|+1 Grafdigger’s Cage||-2 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales|
|+1 Narset, Parter of Veils|
Hypothetically there’s a lot of ways you can tackle this matchup. You can add Aether Gust for Phoenix and Finale of Promise, Mystical Dispute for interaction, Crackling Drakes, Stormwing Entity and random draw spells, Negate has applications too, but I like to stick with the general game plan as much as possible. For most lists, this is going to be a race of who can initiate their game plan first. If we started putting in interaction that may or may not be helpful, we start diluting our own plan because we’d have to cut into our consistency cards one way or another.
Furthermore, although getting a Pheonix or two back can be scary, it’s not as good as going off with a bunch of extra turns and winning the game. The major concern is if they have a lot of counter magic themselves, but you’ll have to be flexible until an established “best” list is created. If they show you a lot of counterspells, then you can definitely think about adding Mystical Dispute. If they have a lot more creatures than common lists, than Aether Gust could be good as well. You’ll have to use your judgement and pivot on the fly.
|+3 Mystical Dispute||-2 Time Warp|
|+2 Shark Typhoon||-3 Brainstorm|
There’s a lot of different flavors of Control out there now, but this seems to be the most popular version so far. When you’re facing Control I found that you want to lean less on turbo time walks and set up for the longer game with more card advantage generating cards. You want Dispute to disrupt their interaction and Torrential Gearhulk and Shark Typhoon can give you a good backup plan if you’re both posturing. Tapping out on their turn isn’t always bad as they may take the initiative on go for Gearhulk into Magma Opus, and if they do, you may be able to chain off Time Walks to kill them.
GRUUL AGGRO / BURN
|+3 Aether Gust||-2 Narset, Parter of Veils|
|+3 Wall of Blossoms||-2 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales|
This boarding will be helpful for really any green or red based aggro deck as the matchup will be a pure race. Here Kefnet will be your lifeline as it’s a huge blocker that can also win the game by itself so prioritize getting it out highly. Beyond that, just do your best to stay afloat until you can put yourself in a good board position.
TIPS AND TRICKS
- You would assume that ticking down Narset on entering is always correct, but against decks that really need to remove it like Phoenix or Auras, keeping it at 5 is a very legitimate strategy as well. If you don’t need to start looking for cards instantly and you don’t believe they can remove it instantly, I would even say it’s likely better to not activate.
- Tamiyo is mostly to find Time Walk effects, but she has 2 other great purposes. One, she can rebuy Time Warp as Time Warp doesn’t exile. Two, she can clear Brainstormed cards from the top of your library. With that, if you want to use a Brainstorm with Tamiyo you can either pitch 2 dead cards and look for something you actually want or pitch a dead card and a card you wouldn’t mind drawing and just name that.
- Since Nissa is so pivotal in this deck, aggressively fetch for Forest with your Brainstorm. For most turns you don’t need more than 2 Blue sources.
- Kefnet is mostly to chain off on our turn, but the ability actually triggers on the first card drawn on each turn. I’ve cast Growth Spiral a lot in response to an opponent’s spell then drew a counterspell I got to use for free! This also works with Brainstorm of course, but generally I try to save that for a set up turn rather than casting stuff on the opponent’s turn. With that, if you happen to hit a Time Walk effect with Brainstorm and you can pay the mana to cast it, you’ll functionally win immediately as you get an extra turn, you can put a Time Walk back on top, then get another turn again. 3 turns from 1 Time Walk.
- If you have a Brainstorm you can aggressively block with Kefnet as you can get it back instantly with Brainstorm. With that, you can even set it up where you draw Kefnet first then a Time Walk effect afterwards.
- Bala Ged Recovery is in the deck to rebuy Time Warps (or milled Tamiyo cards), but I mostly use it as a tapped green source. This deck is extremely mana hungry and casting Recovery is a bonus, not a necessity.
- If you have to decide between casting Growth Spiral and Explore, I cast Growth Spiral first when I have a land in hand and Explore when I don’t. The reason being Explore can let you play a Bala Ged Recovery where Growth Spiral doesn’t. This changes depending on if the instant speed draw matters (counterspells, Kefnet) so this isn’t a cemented rule, just a guideline.
- This may be obvious, but try to save your Fabled Passages for turns you’re looking to Brainstorm. In a similar vein, Tamiyo and Narset are both excellent at clearing out bad cards from your Brainstorm
- Brainstorm is good at hiding cards from opposing discard as well! You can respond to a Thoughtseize by hiding your best cards on top of your deck.
- You may think we need to constantly rebuy Time Warp to win, but that’s not always the case. Just getting a few Alrund’s Epiphany in a row can be game winning as well depending on the board state.
- If you don’t know whether to cast a ramp spell or Foretell an Alrund’s Epiphany, always cast ramp first. I made this mistake a few times which cost me a few wins thinking that I can just ramp later only to draw something I’m 1 mana short for.
- In general try not to overboard with this deck, it needs a critical mass of Time Walks and threats to function and everything else is there to make it happen.
Thank you for reading!