As a Magic: the Gathering player who loves instant win conditions built into cards, it shouldn’t be surprising that I’m a big fan of Approach of the Second Sun. It’s a deceptively simple win condition that this Amonkhet sorcery offers, too.
It costs 7 mana to cast (6W) and gains you 7 life. That doesn’t sound worth it, except if you haven’t cast a copy of Approach of the Second Sun during that game, you get to shuffle your deck and place it 7 cards from the top. If you already cast Approach of the Second Sun, however, you simply win the game.
Yes, it sounds simple enough. But 7 mana is a lot to pay for a card that really just gains you 7 life the first time you cast it. Fortunately, the Amonkhet set offers not only ways to ramp your mana, but also draw a whole bunch of cards thanks to the Cycling mechanic. There’s a neat little trick to make a whole bunch of mana in this deck, which will hopefully get you enough mana to cast Approach of the Second Sun twice in a single turn! Part of it has to do with a 6-mana Enchantment called New Perspectives, which is why some people have come to call this build New Perspectives Combo.
Many builds of Approach of the Second Suns decks were built right after the release of Amonkhet. One of the most consistent first of these builds is this 4-color Approach of the Second Suns deck piloted by ksk0601 in a Magic Online Competitive Standard League to a 5-0 finish!
4 Vizier of Tumbling Sands
4 Shefet Monitor
1 Sphinx of the Final Word
4 Traverse the Ulvenwald
4 Haze of Pollen
4 Shadow of the Grave
4 Renewed Faith
1 Approach of the Second Sun
4 Weirding Wood
4 Cast Out
4 New Perspectives
1 Fetid Pools
2 Fortified Village
4 Irrigated Farmland
4 Scattered Groves
4 Sheltered Thicket
4 Drake Haven
2 Kefnet the Mindful
4 Angel of Sanctions
Essentially, this deck focuses on Cycling a bunch of cards, gaining life, and preventing combat damage long enough to cast your win condition card twice. Let’s break it down, starting with the creatures.
Vizier of Tumbling Sands is a great little creature who can untap permanents (such as your lands) and be cycled himself to draw you a card, and untap a permanent. Shefet Monitor is a 6 mana creature, but he can be cycled for 3G to not only draw you a card, but put a basic land card from your deck into play. It’s especially important that this card doesn’t come into play tapped, so you can tap it for mana right away.
Sphinx of the Final Word plays several roles in this deck. First of all, he can’t be countered, and gives you a 5/5 flying presence. He is also hexproof, so he’s extremely difficult for opponents to remove. But the best thing about the Sphinx is that he makes instant and sorcery spells you cast unable to be countered. With only a single copy of Approach of the Second Sun in the deck, you have to ensure that it doesn’t go to the graveyard.
Non-Creature Spell Lineup
Traverse the Ulvenwald has been proven to be a good Magic card, and it’s particularly strong in this deck. For only a single mana, you can get a basic land card into your hand. However, once you have 4 card types in your graveyard, you can add a creature card to your hand instead. It’s a cheap little tutor that can do a lot of work for you.
Haze of Pollen is essentially a “fog” effect, meaning that it prevents all combat damage in a given turn. It costs only 1G to cast and you have the option to cycle it for 3 mana. This flexibility will come in handy as the game progresses.
Shadow of the Grave is one of my favorite cards in this deck. It costs 1B to cast, and is in fact the only Black card in the deck. It’s well worth running, though. What this little instant does is allow to you get back every card that you cycled or discarded that turn. This is pretty nuts, and actually combos well with an Enchantment that we’ll get to shortly.
Renewed Faith is a 1W instant that gains you 6 life. But you can also cycle it for the same amount and instead have the option to gain 2 life. It’s a very solid card when you consider how valuable gaining life in this sort of deck really is.
There’s only a single copy of Approach of the Second Sun in the deck. This seems incredibly risky, but fortunately, this one copy should usually be all you need.
Moving onto the Enchantments, we have 4 copies of Weirding Wood from the Shadows Over Innistrad set. Not only does this card enchant a land and allow it to produce two mana of any one color, but it also makes a Clue token, which you can trade in for a card later. This card is a great combo with Vizier of Tumbling Sands to ramp your mana.
Cast Out is a 4 mana enchantment with Flash. It can remove any nonland permanent your opponent controls. This is not the cheapest removal around, but it’s a catch-all that is very useful in a deck like this where you’re working towards a very specific goal. It also has a very cheap cycling cost of a single White mana, so it’s pretty much always going to net you card advantage.
New Perspectives is an Enchantment that costs a whopping 6 mana (5U) but actually does quite a but in this deck. When it comes into play, you draw three cards. That’s already pretty solid. But it’s the second thing that it does which makes it good for this deck. When it’s in play, and you have seven or more cards in hand, you can pay 0 for all cycling costs.
While having 7 cards is a lot, with all of the card draw in the deck, and Shadow of the Grave getting you back a lot of cards, this is an attainable goal. In fact, getting this enchantment out is what really allows you to get enough mana to win the game in one turn. If you can keep cycling enough cards to draw into your Approach of the Second Sun twice, you have a strong chance of winning.
Unsurprisingly, the mana base is full of rare cycle lands from Amonkhet. There’s one copy of the Blue/Black Fetid Pools, 4 copies of the White/Blue Irrigated Farmland, 4 copies of the Green /White Scattered Groves, and 4 copies of the Red/Green Sheltered Thicket. The last one is particularly strange, considering that there are absolutely no Red mana costs in the deck. But they are mainly in here for the cycling ability.
There are also 2 copies of Fortified Village, which will often come into play untapped since there are so many Plains and Forests in the deck (the cycle lands have basic land types.) For basic lands, there are 5 Forest, 1 Plains and 1 Island. It’s a solid mana base.
This deck is setup to draw a lot of cards, stop combat damage, and gain life, all to get to cast one card twice to win the game. The deck can’t really win otherwise. However, in cases where you run into an extremely aggressive deck or a control deck that won’t let you resolve Approach of the Second Sun, there are ways in the sideboard to win anyway.
Two copies of Dispel and three copies of Negate help in the counter wars that could occur as you try to resolve Approach of the Second Sun. Negate is also useful in stopping planeswalkers dead in their tracks.
Drake Haven is a particularly cool card. This 3 mana Enchantment allows you to pay 1 colorless mana to make a 2/2 flying Drake token whenever you cycle or discard a card. This means that the cycling engine of the deck can stay intact, even in aggressive matchups. These can replace the slow 6-mana New Perspectives in those types of match-ups.
Kefnet the Mindful is one of the Amonkhet Gods, and the one that is hardest to get online. But as long as you have at least seven cards in hand (not hard to do in this deck), you get a 5/5 indestructible flyer. His draw a card ability can be useful, too, even if you do have to return a land you control to your hand.
Another great weapon to have against more aggressive decks is the 4 copies of Angel of Sanctions. It does something that the Enchantment Cast Out does – remove a nonland permanent your opponent controls from play – except on a 3 / 4 flyer. Angel of Sanctions also has Embalm, so even after it dies, you can end up making a token of it that does the same thing. It’s a good replacement for those Enchantments when you need to remove opponent’s threat while also giving you a way to do damage in the air.
Final Thoughts on the Approach of the Second Sun Deck
This is a pretty cool deck that takes full advantage of the cycling mechanic cards in Amonkhet. It basically stops your opponent from winning just long enough for you to say “I win” by playing a 7 mana card twice. What I really like about this particular build is the sideboard, which allows you to adjust the deck based on the match-up. Having only a single copy of your main win condition is risky, but with the number of cards you can draw, it shouldn’t be hard to get it into your hand during the course of a game.
There are other ways to build an Approach of the Second Sun deck, of course, but the New Perspectives Combo build seems to be the most consistent way for it to work. After all, this deck did go undefeated in matches in a competitive Magic Online tournament.
Not only that, but Saffron Olive of MTGGoldfish went ahead and played a version of New Perspectives Combo in his Against the Odds video series. While the end result hardly surprises me (he went 5-0 in on-video matches), it proved that this is a deck that actually works! Notably, his sideboard contains 3 copies of Radiant Flames instead of 3 of the 4 Angel of Sanctions, and I think this might be a good choice, especially in a deck that can produce 4 colors of mana!
How would you build an Approach of the Second Sun deck? Is this a deck you’d like to play, especially when it’s been proven to actually work as a competitive strategy?