I Have Been, and Always Shall Be, Your Friend: The Dig Through Time Banning

I woke up on Monday the 28th of September feeling good. The weekend had been great, I was recently employed, everything was well. And then it came to four o’clock, and my heart sank as I logged onto The Source and I read these words:

“[card]Dig Through Time[/card] banned in Legacy.”

I couldn’t believe it. It had survived three BnR update announcements. I thought that it was going to become a format mainstay. But sadly, my blue delve spell of choice (Sorry [card]Logic Knot[/card]) was gone. I’m gonna miss you buddy. It’s been great playing with mini Demonic Tutor in Legacy but I suppose it was time for you to go.

But it’s time to move on and tackle the Banned and Restricted List update for Battle for Zendikar.

Yes, Dig Through Time is gone. What was a card that pushed non-blue decks out of the format is now a relic of a time gone by, sent to serve time alongside [card]Survival of the Fittest[/card] and its big brother, [card]Treasure Cruise[/card]. Now despite the fact I loved the card ever since it entered the format, I do believe that Wizards were right in banning it. I played with two copies in Miracles since Khans of Tarkir came out and loved the inclusion but it changed the format in a big way. I don’t think it warped the format to the same degree Treasure Cruise did but it had an impact that a lot of people hated.

It was no surprise that decks that didn’t have Islands were at a disadvantage in Legacy but it didn’t stop them from putting up a good fight, and sometimes, punishing those blue decks. Death and Taxes and Elves are decks that immediately spring to mind, but you could go further with things like Jund, Maverick, the various [card]Life from the Loam[/card] strategies, and so much more. But when Dig was in the format, you just couldn’t beat the card advantage and long game power the card had. Before, BGx decks would often attack blue decks with cards like [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card] and [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card], but it was useless when those decks could run these powerful delve draw spells and refill their hand as quickly as they were attacked, leaving the attrition player with nothing and the other with a fresh belt of ammo. While it was less so when Treasure Cruise was banned, blue decks could, and would, keep in Force of Will against these attrition based decks because the card disadvantage didn’t matter anymore because of how easy it was to reload.

I am sad that Dig Through Time is gone. I was a big fan and I don’t think it was as toxic as Treasure Cruise was. Though I will admit, towards the end of its life, people were beginning to maindeck [card]Pyroblast[/card] and that is always a poor sign. So while I am sad to see it leave, I am not surprised.

So now that it’s gone, what will happen to Legacy?

For a start, the Omnitell deck that ran rampant is gone. Even though it was a deck that existed before, it gained so much with Dig Through Time. It was streamlined and much more efficient. It could set up the combo of [card]Show and Tell[/card] plus [card]Omniscience[/card] faster and with more resiliency. The deck was also 90 percent redundancy in the form of cantrips like [card]Ponder[card], [card]Preordain[/card] and [card]Gitaxian Probe[/card]. All of these cards were there just to fuel Dig and sculpt a hand of the combo and enough counterspells to win the fight. Without Dig though, the deck has lost the card that made it so resilient and fast. It will stick around but it will be back to running the [card]Dream Halls[/card] version with [card]Enter the Infinite[/card] and [card]Release the Ants[/card].

Because of this change, I expect to see Sneak and Show come back. The deck was pushed out by Omnitell as the former was a much more resilient version of the combo deck and wasn’t vulnerable to the same hate the other version was. Before, one could [card]Karakas[/card] the big fattie the deck cheated in to play or [card]Pithing Needle[/card] naming [card]Sneak Attack[/card], or even playing a card like [card]Containment Priest[/card]. But when the Omnitell was Showing in an enchantment that allowed them to just cast Emrakul, these cards were gone. The deck was also able to load up on counterspells that it could unleash for free.

The other impact of Dig leaving the format is that non-blue decks are going to come back. We’re going to see Maverick come back, even though it may not be the best time to play it what with Miracles having such a strong position in the metagame. Death and Taxes, a deck that was already going strong in a world of Dig Through Time, is going to come back as well. Elves as well I think gains a lot out of this banning. Elves has been punished heavily since KTK was released. The Treasure Cruise Delver decks were able to race Elves and packed cards like [card]Forked Bolt[/card] and [card]Young Pyromancer[/card] that attacked the tribe so well, and even when Cruise was banned, it was still hard for the forest dwellers to keep up against the decks that abused Dig Through Time, so now I think it’s time for it to make a resurgence.

cardart_digthroughtime

Delver decks are going to stay, by-and-large, the same however they won’t have the late game strength as they had with Dig. I believe that Grixis/4 Colour Delver will be the Delver deck of choice as it has access to cards like Young Pyromancer, [card]Cabal Therapy[/card] and [card]Gurmag Angler[/card], as well as having the green splash for [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] and [card]Abrupt Decay[/card]. It’s also got access to a lot of cheap countermagic. These decks normally played two copies of Dig so those slots easily get filled in with something like [card]Spell Pierce[/card] or [card]Flusterstorm[/card].

I predict as well that Canadian Threshold is going to come back. This deck was at one point the best deck in Legacy and would be a monster against nearly all of the field. However the printing of Treasure Cruise pushed it out as its mana denial plan of [card]Stifle[/card] and [card]Wasteland[/card] were useless against decks that could refill with Cruise and Dig, but the deck couldn’t play these cards because of the anti-synergy with [card]Nimble Mongoose[/card] and to a lesser extent, [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]. Now though, the deck is able to breath once more and while I think it has been outclassed by other Delver decks, I think it’s going to come back now that Stifle and Wasteland have room to play around in.

Another deck that we haven’t seen since KTK is Shardless BUG. Shardless BUG I believe is one of the best decks to play right now, now that Dig is gone. Card advantage was very rare in Legacy up until the blue delve spells came into the equation and the only deck that really got card advantage was Shardless. The deck gave up counterspells other than [card]Force of Will[/card] so that it could use [card]Shardless Agent[/card] to the best of its ability, normally abusing the interaction with [card]Ancestral Visions[/card]. But when other decks could easily keep up with the advantage Shardless generated, the deck fell a little bit out of favour. That and it fell into the attrition decks that were relegated to a subpar status when delve became the monster that it was, and still is to some degree. But now, not only does it produce some incredible card advantage, but it also has a fantastic matchup against Miracles. It can attack the deck in a variety of ways and I believe is the choice of deck to play if you’re playing in a large Legacy tournament.

I’ve talked a lot about Dig Through Time’s banning but have neglected to talk about the unbanning of [card]Black Vise[/card]. When Legacy was created, Black Vise was one of the cards on the original banlist that was put there because of the way the format looked at the time. Legacy no longer is dominated by hyper efficient blue draw spells and Black Vise no longer punishes decks the way it used to. The only strategies that it fits into that I can think of are Burn, which would rather play a [card]Goblin Guide[/card] or [card]Monastery Swiftspear[/card] on turn one, or MUD, which is an unpopular and underplayed deck. There are also plenty of cards that get rid of it that are played in the mainboard of decks: Abrupt Decay, [card]Council’s Judgement[/card] and [card]Vindicate[/card] are all cards that see play in the main of Legacy decks.

Dig Through Time had a great run, a better run than I’d say Treasure Cruise did, but all dogs must have their day and now it is gone. But it’s time for us to move on and embrace this world of non-blue fair decks, with their [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card]s [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card] and [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card]s. And with the last Legacy GP of the year in just over a month’s time, you can be sure that this change is going to get people gearing up for one heck of showdown.

Until next time!

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