Blast From the Past covers massive ground in terms of content featuring far more Doctors, more Doctor’s companions and more sagas than any of the other Doctor Who preconstructed Commander decks. Of course, because the deck covers more of the Doctor Who universe, it could be a challenge to make a single, unified deck concept that would work for all the different Doctors the deck utilizes. An all-encompassing Historic theme was a smart choice by Wizards to make the deck function merely by playing your cards and getting value on top of value. Unlike the two other decks featuring Doctors, this deck leaves very little to chance and that’s thanks to the very reliable pairing of the default commanders.
Your Best bet Most of the Time
While there are more possible Commander combinations for this deck than any of the other ones, many of the supporting cards make a fairly strong assumption that you will be playing the default Commanders of The Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith. For example, Five Hundred Year Diary generates a massive amount of mana if you have a lot of Clue tokens. Blast from the Past loves to have extra tokens around for Ace, Fearless Rebel or The Third Doctor. While a few of the other Doctor choices can generate a Clue, Sarah Jane Smith would generate two or three by the time they get into play, making everything just a bit better if she was around.
Meanwhile, The Fourth Doctor gives you virtual card advantage, free knowledge, and the ability to change your fate. While there are only two Legendary lands in the deck, it’s nice to have the chance to play them off the top.
Blast from the Past, as it stands, has a ton of other cards you can play off the top, and you get a Food for free if you do. Those tokens synergize with many other cards in the deck. With Sarah making Clues and The Fourth Doctor letting you look at the top card, you can always pay two to sacrifice a Clue and see a new card. This is a very efficient engine and I would suggest sticking with it, especially if you keep the deck mostly stock.
Your Greed Based Alternative
Without a doubt, this is always the Doctor I wanted to draw or would tutor for in the main deck, so why not play it as the commander instead? Doubling your historic spells is crazy value. To complete the full-on greed build, you would also use Romana II for your companion, thus effectively tripling your historic spells. It’s not very hard to win getting double or triple value, but your early turns will be significantly worse and many of your support cards don’t really do much for this pairing. When this version of the deck goes off, it goes off hard!
You already have Romana, Adric, Mathematical Genius and City of Death to keep the copying rolling. Adding in a ton of token doubling effects seems like a very direct way to build this version of the deck, but it would remove many of the Doctor Who thematic cards in order to be more efficient.
How it Plays
The deck is not scared, does not care about sequencing, and has several wincons. Blast from the Past is, by far, the easiest deck to play of the four. Just cast your spells. Simple. Maybe you’ll kill everyone with 7/7 Dinosaurs that you generate from every Food and Clue token you make.
With so many Doctors and companions, both Day of Destiny and Heroes’ Podium can make everything on your field massive. You also have Gallifrey Stands which is technically doable by copying Doctors a bunch of times provided The Sixth Doctor generates non-Legendary tokens that you can copy.
Here’s the thing. In all cases you are committing a lot of stuff to the board. Shouldn’t you be afraid of wipes? Nah, not really!
Not only do you have Gallifrey Stands to recover after a wipe, you also have The Five Doctors. With 11 mana, you’re also going to dump them directly back into play. The Eighth Doctor gives you additional recursion.
On top of all that, the deck runs Heroic Intervention as an easy counter to almost anything. At one mana, Time Lord Regeneration also helps get some value out of a Doctor dying.
If all of that isn’t enough, you also have Reverse the Polarity which is far better than Cancel. Blast from the Past does not have to live in fear of mass removal. You have more than a few ways of dealing with it while having mass removal of your own like Time Wipe and The Night of the Doctor. Notably, both of those cards let you save one of your Doctors and The Sixth Doctor and The Eight Doctor are always great choices here.
Upgrading Blast From the Past
If I could only add one card to Blast From the past, it would be Jaheira, Friend of the Forest. With Sarah Jane Smith in play, you are effectively generating an extra mana rock once per turn simply for doing anything. This is too good not to add to the deck as it is.
Some of the easiest includes to the deck would be all the artifact lands like Seat of the Synod, Tree of Tales and Ancient Den as you can play them off the top of your deck with The Fourth Doctor. If you do, you make a Food token. If Jaheira is in play, you can tap that token for an extra mana. Wow, two mana per turn, acceleration, and deck manipulation? Any number of legendary lands work well here, but Hall of Heliod’s Generosity is probably the best one considering how many sagas are included.
From here, it’s really about budget and deck design goals. Are you going to add a bunch of token doublers like Doubling Season, Parallel Lives, and Anointed Procession? All are cards that will make the deck go off even harder if that is your goal. Pay attention to cards like Mondrak, Glory Dominus, Adrix and Nev, Twincasters and The Battle for Bretagard that double tokens and have synergy with The Fourth Doctor as well because they are historic, unlike Doubling Season.
Likewise, Peregrin Took and Rosie Cotton add a lot of free tokens to the deck, are low mana cost and legendary. If you include Rosie and keep The First Doctor in the deck, then you can use +1/+1 counters with Falco Spara, Pactweaver to give you another way to play off the top of your deck. Once you get enough mana, you can cycle through the deck pretty fast, so having another effect that does this is actually quite powerful.
Some of the Doctors don’t even have one line of flavor text because there is a paragraph of rules text instead of keyword language. The First Doctor is particularly notable for this. How are you going to leave out flavor text on Doctors? At least name the ability with a nod to what it does. Duggan, Private Detective gets his The Most Important Punch in History ability named but The First Doctor is solely a block of text.
Why does he have this weird cascade ability rather than Paradox keyword for example? Why is this ability in a deck with no cascade cards? Yes, I am completely aware that TARDIS gives your next spell cascade and this Doctor tutors it up. I see the gimmick. It just seems like a miss in the flavor department.
There are a couple of cards included, Sergeant John Benton and Vrestin, Menoptra Leader that look out of place. I had to do a little bit of lore research to see if the cards fit their abilities, and they are relatively weak in that regard. Certainly, Vrestin with The Sixth Doctor is a powerful combination, and if you went for a token effect deck, it would make the cut. John, on the other hand, is a powercrept version of Diviner Spirit. One might expect the card to generate Soldier tokens rather than being a two power creature with Trample. These cards stick out as weird for the deck in my opinion.
I’m torn on Crisis of Conscience because, at first, the card looked great. After playing multiple games with it, Crisis of Conscience really lost its luster. In a heavy Doctor Who environment, there will be a mix of tokens and non-tokens, so this has a very high chance of not being the one sided board wipe it appears to be. Once you look at paying six mana, losing some of your own stuff in the process and not even killing everything else, you reconsider the strength of the card. Even outside of this set, think of all the Food tokens in Lord of the Rings, Treasure tokens that see play and, of course, just token copies in normal games. This probably could have been five mana instead.
Much like every one of the Doctor Who decks, Blast from the Past does not include enough token cards for when you really start to go off. This is more of a general Magic problem than one specific to this deck, but it needs to be mentioned. Copying, say, a saga five or six times requires many tokens and many dice for different lore counters. Adding in Mutant tokens and Insect tokens to the mix only makes you run out of the included tokens faster.
The Final Verdict
As I am not a Doctor Who fan, I can only experience this product as a Magic player. That being said, if I were to get only one of these pre-con decks, Blast From the Past would be that deck. It covers a lot of ground for the series, has the most Doctors and Companions of any deck, and has a simple and functional plan without many necessary changes. On top of that, it has the most potential, numerically speaking, for new deck building material because of the huge amount of commander combinations.
The other decks may have some better singles, but Blast from the Past offers a much more reliable play experience and a ton of future build potential which I think gives a buyer the most bang for their buck. Overall, the deck is well-made and has the second-most streamlined play experience of all the decks. Blast From the Past is just edged out by Masters of Evil for a simple and direct game plan while being far less luck based and sequence demanding than Time-Wimey or Paradox Power. All of these decks offer a pretty good value for their price, and Blast From the Past is simply the most solid choice all things considered.