Dig Through Time: Banned, and Restricted


Dig Through Time is banned.
Black Vise is unbanned.

The last Banned and Restricted List announcement really shook up Eternal formats—many of us expected the axe to hit Dig Through Time, so this wasn’t a big surprise.

In my last article I talked about the top 3 decks in Legacy, and each one played at least 2 Dig Through Time.

Blue has always been the best color in Legacy, between free counters and great cantrips, but recently it got even better thanks to Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time.

Wizards probably made a mistake printing those cards, and since then have applied a Band-Aid. I highly doubt they are going to make this kind of mistake again.

Black Vise has never been legal in Legacy, banned since the advent of the format. That’s because it was restricted in Vintage, and because decks were based totally around drawing cards. Now things have changed—there are so many 1-drops that I can’t imagine not leading with a turn-1 play.

Caleb Durward recorded a video about the eventual impact of Worldgorger Dragon and Black Vise in Legacy, and you can find it here. It wasn’t a surprise that 18 months later, both of those cards were unbanned. Good call Caleb!

So, how will the post-Dig metagame look?

1) Delver Decks

Delver of Secrets has always been among the best decks in Legacy since its printing, and after these bans that won’t change.

In my last article I talked about playing Grixis Delver with Gurmag Angler, and in addition to that there were 2 copies of Dig Through Time, but it wasn’t as critical of a card as it is for OmniTell—you can just replace it with more Gurmag Anglers and call it a day.

In my opinion, the deck that really got better after this ban is RUG Delver, since with fewer card advantage cards around, tempo spells get much better.

RUG Delver

Jacob Wilson – 1st Place, SCG Invitational Richmond 3/29/2015

Jacob Wilson is indeed one of the best pilots in the world when it comes to Canadian Threshold—he really knows how to play it, and if you want to get better with this deck you should watch his videos. Even if outdated, the deck is always the same.

I also foresee a rise in BUG Delver. The main problem with BUG Delver was that it didn’t have access to Red Elemental Blast, which meant it couldn’t easily answer Dig Through Time. Now this is no longer a barrier, and it might be time to go back to the good old curve of turn-1 Delver of Secrets turn-2 Hymn to Tourach.

If you want more info about the deck, I wrote an article about 5 months ago. The format hasn’t gone anywhere since then, so it is still relevant.

2) Miracles

This is another old pillar of the format that will never fall. The Dig banning did affect this deck, but not as brutally as it did others.

When Dig Through Time was legal, the only deckbuilding choice was whether to play Monastery Mentor in the main deck or the sideboard, and everyone accepted the fact that Ponder was a 4-of in the main deck.

Ponder helped fuel the graveyard for Dig Through Time, looked for the card itself, and smoothed your draws when you didn’t have Sensei’s Divining Top, or post-sideboard when your opponent played Pithing Needle on Top.

Before Khans of Tarkir people weren’t playing Ponder. What happened? They only just realized that the card was good, or was it only good with Dig Through Time? My answer is that it’s still good and people should keep playing Ponder in their Miracles lists.

The best substitute for Dig Through Time is Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Since players have simply been cutting Jaces for Digs, it’s now time for the best planeswalker ever printed to be back in business!

3) Combo Decks

Before the Dig Through Time ban, OmniTell was the best combo deck by a mile. Now we’re back to the classic Legacy metagame where there are a plethora of combo decks and a plethora of Force of Wills ready to battle them.

Show and Tell decks will now rely on Sneak Attack or Enter the Infinite, as it was before Khans of Tarkir.

Keep in mind that with the new mulligan rule, combo decks definitely get a boost. Since they are more likely to mulligan, this is a small advantage over the 22-land decks that usually keep based on the number of lands in their hands.

There won’t be a unanimous best combo deck, but a bunch of them that you have to be ready for with your Thoughtseizes and your Force of Wills.

4) Midrange Decks

BUG Shardless, Jund, Maverick

In my last article I didn’t mention this fourth group. Why? Because they were overshadowed by the presence of combo decks being so solid and so good, when these decks have a terrible matchup against combo.

Now Show and Tell is much worse but still decent, and Storm, Reanimator, High Tide, Belcher will always be around. You still have an unfavorable matchup against those decks, but you’ll have discard cards or hate bears to fight them.

I’ve recorded a video with BUG Shardless here. The deck got so much better after the ban not only because combo decks got weaker, but also because people will reduce the number of Red Elemental Blasts they play so that you’ll hopefully resolve your Ancestral Vision more often.

This is the updated deck list that I highly recommend for the first days of the new format:

BUG Shardless


Chalice of the Void is restricted.
Dig Through Time is restricted.
Thirst for Knowledge is unrestricted.

It’s been long time since there were so many changes in Vintage.

1) Chalice of the Void being restricted is great. I play Vintage often and I always play blue decks. MUD has always been a nightmare for me.

I believe Vintage would be the best format if Bazaar of Baghdad and Mishra’s Workshop were banned. The blue mirror is so skill-intensive, and deckbuilding matter so much, but when you find yourself playing against a turn-1 Trinisphere, nothing matters. The same holds for turn-1 Bazaar of Baghdad in game 1.

With that being said, I appreciate every kind of restriction to those decks, even if Chalice of the Void seems chosen at random. It’s clearly not the most dangerous card—Lodestone Golem holds that honor—but maybe they just want to take away a piece and not destroy the whole archetype.

2) Dig Through Time is restricted, again to the surprise of nobody.

When Treasure Cruise was restricted in Vintage, I was very surprise that Dig Trough Time didn’t receive the same treatment at the time. I’m not saying Treasure Cruise was an inferior card, it definitely wasn’t in UR Delver, but in blue control decks Dig Through Time is better than Cruise because cards are so powerful in Vintage that taking the best 2 out of 7 is nearly double-Demonic Tutor.

This won’t change anything in my opinion. I’ve always played 2 Dig Through Time and 1 Treasure Cruise since last January (when they restricted Treasure Cruise). Now I will have a free slot to play some other draw-engine card, perhaps an additional Jace.

3) Thirst for Knowledge is unrestricted.

Now and then some cards get unrestricted from Vintage. In 2012 it was Burning Wish, in 2013 it was Regrowth, last January was Gifts Ungiven. Since then I’ve never seen those cards around. It seems like Thirst for Knowledge will share the same fate.

The only deck that think will use Thirst for Knowledge more than others is Tezzerator, a deck that used to play Thoughtcast as a draw engine because it has a critical mass of artifacts.

The biggest problem with Thirst for Knowledge is that the 3-drop spot is now very crowded—you see Dack Fayden and Monastery Mentor everywhere, that’s why I don’t think it will be played more than it’s played right now.

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