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A bunch of recent Channel Fireball videos (LSV, Cheon, LSV again) show players exploiting Time Vault combos, where you untap the Vault with Voltaic Key or some similar effect to take infinite turns. That got me thinking that Time Vault seems like a pretty useless card from a competitive perspective if you're not using it in a combo.

Has there ever been a competitive deck that used Time Vault's manual untap ability, where you skip your turn to untap it? Or can anyone even think of a situation which could plausibly occur in competitive play where skipping your turn to untap Time Vault is a good (or at least defensible) strategic choice?

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    If I remember correctly, there was once a combo with Flame Fusillade where you tapped Time Vault to deal one damage, skipped a turn to untap it, and then repeated until your opponent was dead — but that was when the wording on Time Vault was "Skip your next turn: Untap Time Vault" and so you could pull the whole thing off in one turn. – jwodder Dec 29 '14 at 1:06
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    I've got a deck where I cast Chronomantic Escape, then skip my turn with Magosi, The Waterveil. My opponents get two consecutive turns, but they can't attack me in either one. This little interaction is probably too fragile for competitive play, but it's a fun thing to do at the kitchen table. – Kevin Dec 29 '14 at 13:13
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One consideration is if there is some symmetrical negative effect in play, such as Smokestack or Bottomless Pit. Skipping your turn skips a trigger on such cards that would effect you.

Another possibility would be if you're able to essentially take your turn during your opponent's turn. Prophet of Kruphix is pretty good for that, as is Seedborn Muse. Of course you're not getting combat steps, but there are plenty of decks which don't need combat in order to win.

  • Seedborn Muse would probably qualify as untap combo, since your vault will untap during your opponents turn. So with Sedborn Muse and the Vault on the battlefield you will get an extra turn for each of your opponent's turns. – M.Herzkamp Feb 6 '15 at 13:33
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I don't know about any competitive decks but I can imagine it being useful. Sometimes having two turns in a row is worth skipping a turn for. Imagine your opponent only has one creature available to block and you can remove it somehow. That gives you two turns you can attack him without him blocking you. The first of the turns you can even drop another creature you know that can't be blocked the second turn. If you hadn't the extra turn your opponent might have left more blockers.

The other way around is therefore also true. Knowing that you skipped a turn and have an extra turn available at any time you wish forces your opponent to be more defensive because otherwise you could do tricks like I mentioned above. Your deck could benefit from your opponent playing more defensively.

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If you happen to be running a Millstone deck with Island Sanctuary, you may not care how many turns your opponent takes as it just gets him through his deck quicker.

If you're running a Stasis deck and your opponent is tapped out.

If you have Racks or Black Vises out and your opponent is low on life.

As a 2 mana artifact, you may not care that much if your opponent reverses advantage on the third turn to bank a turn for later.

It's pretty situation specific, but it exists.

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IIRC, Luis Scott-Vargas actually talks in some of his Vintage videos about untapping Time Vault 'the hard way'; the primary reason that you might want to do it is that turns aren't necessarily equivalent. If you, for instance, play T1 Time Vault (pick your favorite way) and your opponent goes Island, Delver of Secrets, then you may just choose to charge up the Time Vault right then, since about the worst thing that's going to happen on T2 is that you're going to get hit for 3 — it's certainly conceivable that your opponent might resolve something brutal like Ancestral Recall, but about as likely that they'll just run out a Young Pyromancer or the like and hold up Daze. By contrast, you'll be able to take your extra turn somewhere in the midgame, where you may be able to e.g. run out Thoughtseize to clear the way, use the banked extra turn, and set up Yawgmoth's Will for an outright win.

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