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By: Cheater Hater, Vincent Borchardt
Mar 01 2021 1:00pm
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The timeline of remastered sets is a strange one. Tempest Remastered was the original: a MTGO-exclusive set primarily designed to put more Wastelands on the platform that mostly flopped. Then Magic Arena got remasters of Amonkhet and Kaladesh to improve Historic and work towards Pioneer, and while the latter was mostly a straight translation, the former added a bunch of random cards. Now we get the set likely designed between those two: Time Spiral Remastered, and as the first remastered set designed for paper, it’s a strange case with three distinct goals. Fundamentally it translates a fun Limited format to a modern audience, presumably minus a bunch of the garbage and trimming some of the outliers like Sprout Swarm. Beneath the surface it’ll reprint a ton of extremely expensive cards like Damnation, Tarmogoyf, and Sliver Legion. Finally, the flashiest part is the first old-border reprints in a very long time, with cards like Chalice of the Void and Path to Exile already confirmed. As such, this is going to be a relatively easy prediction piece, yet difficult at the same time. 

The main thing that makes this difficult is that we don’t know that much about the set other than the five cards previewed (the three Timeshifted cards from the reveal, Cranial Plating from The List, and the Lotus Bloom release promo). Heck, until the WPN article we weren’t even 100% sure it would include the entire block! Thus, to keep myself sane I’m going to focus on the main set (but I’ll talk about the Timeshifted cards later) and assume it’s the same size as a normal set: 249 cards (ignoring basic lands), with 101 commons, 80 uncommons, 53 rares, and 15 mythics. At the bottom end I need to try to make clear limited archetypes without modern conveniences like signpost uncommons, while at the top end I need to make sensible mythic upgrades without missing much (though I am going to miss some things by default, since I’m maintaining color balance). Let’s start like a normal set with the Limited archetypes.

 

Archetypes:

White/Blue: ETB Blink

We’re starting with an easy archetype here, as Momentary Blink was already one of the stars of Time Spiral Limited, even before you add in Dream Stalker and the Planar Chaos “gating” cards like Whitemane Lion. The biggest problem is that while Stormfront Riders is the obvious build-around for the archetype, the name likely disqualifies it from a reprint in 2021. The Reality Acid side of the deck has also been nerfed a bit by the aura being upshifted to uncommon and Tolarian Sentinel not making the cut. I did downshift Seht's Tiger to uncommon and Cryptic Annelid to common, and you still get Morph synergies like blinking a Brine Elemental and using Fathom Seer multiple times, but maybe I went too far.

 

Blue/Black: Flash Control

Mystical Teachings is another “gold” card that points towards an obvious archetype, even if it might be too good for modern Limited. I did give it some new tools like downshifting Dismal Failure and Ovinize along with the usual value tools like Logic Knot and Think Twice. Black mostly adds removal, but Dimir Control is a fine “normal” archetype.

 

Black/Red: Echo/Madness Aggro

This time the guiding “gold” card is Henchfiend of Ukor, a card not that good in the grand scheme of things but pointing towards echo mattering with cards like Stingscourger, a downshifted Basalt Gargoyle, and Deepcavern Imp. There’s also a small Madness theme with enablers like Lightning Axe and payoffs like Dark Withering, which also ties into the Hellbent cards like Keldon Megaliths and (the surprisingly expensive) Gibbering Descent. I kept most of the good removal in, but hopefully cuts like Gathan Raiders (a victim of keeping to the modern 5-mana rule for Morphs) can keep it in line.

 

Red/Green: Suspend Storm

Yes, I’m stealing this archetype from the original Modern Masters, but I think it was supposed to mostly work like this in the original set too. The main difference is that you get Storm Entity in addition to Grapeshot and (an upshifted) Empty the Warrens, and slightly more suspend at lower rarities. The cards are good (and suspend is still a good mechanic), so it should work.

 

Green/White: Thallids

Another deck mostly taken from Modern Masters, though ironically I don’t get to use actual Thallid since it was on the timeshifted sheet. There was a lot of stuff that didn’t make it into MMA though, and while no one cares about Mycologist (even though it’s still here as filler), Utopia Mycon and Thelon of Havenwood both need reprints. I’m worried there aren’t enough pump spells (Tromp the Domains got cut both due to space and power level concerns, and while I like Marshaling Cry as a Melvin it’s clearly weaker than Fortify), but Thrill of the Hunt does a lot.

 

White/Black: Rebels

Three in a row from Modern Masters, but this is another obvious pick. Most of the changes are going back to how it was in the original block, like moving Bound in Silence back to uncommon (and obviously you don’t get Avian Changeling), but Knight of the Holy Nimbus and Big Game Hunter are strong uncommons—almost enough to make up for cutting Saltfield Recluse.

 

Blue/Red: Suspend Tempo

Now we’re starting to get to the odd choices, but this feels like it works. Efficient creatures like Keldon Marauders, good burn like Rift Bolt, bounce like Aven Augur and Riftwing Cloudskate, and shadow creatures like Looter Il-Kor and Infiltrator Il-Kor should make a good tempo deck work. Suspend adds a layer of overwhelming resources as well (though Errant Ephemeron did get upshifted to uncommon).

 

Black/Green: Midrange

This is one where I mostly gave up—there isn’t much guiding this archetype other than efficient creatures like Thornweald Archer, Putrid Cyclops, and downshifted Pouncing Wurm and Skittering Monstrosity. Hopefully removing most of the junk lets you get enough density of the good cards for this deck to work, but this is the archetype I’m least sure about.

 

Red/White: Slivers

It may seem weird that I ended up in the same place for Slivers as Modern Horizons, but it makes sense when you look at it as an aggro deck. Overall I made red and white primary sliver colors (three commons, one uncommon, and one rare each), green secondary (one common, one uncommon, one rare), and the other two tertiary (one uncommon each), plus Venser's Sliver at common, the ten uncommon gold slivers, and Sliver Legion at mythic.

 

Green/Blue: Ramp

This seems weird but it actually works. Green and blue both have a lot of good targets (Havenwood Wurm, Brine Elemental), and they both have ramp (don’t forget Dreamscape Artist). Blue also has Erratic Mutation as a payoff, and Centaur Omenreader is a neat way to ramp. It’s fine for the non-obvious archetypes.

 

Mythic Rares:

Angel's Grace:

White has almost no good cards, and Angel's Grace is the most expensive card by a mile. This is an upshift from Modern Masters, but it still feels like a mythic-enough effect.

 

Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir:

This is a close race between Venser, Shaper Savant and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, even though both were printed at rare in various Masters sets. Venser is actually worth a little more, but Teferi gets bumped up for Limited reasons—bouncing a suspend spell is better than locking out the mechanic entirely.

 

Walk the Aeons:

The first obvious choice, as not only are extra turn effects mythic now, a repeatable one is even more so.

 

Damnation:

Another obvious choice for an upgrade despite it not being upshifted in Modern Masters 2017.

 

Temporal Extortion:

Another Time Walk, another mythic, even if the price will crater after its first reprint.

 

Akroma, Angel of Fury:

While it’s not close to the most expensive red card, this is an obvious choice, especially since it was already upshifted in Masters 25.

 

Tarmogoyf:

I’ll admit this might be worth a rare slot at this point (especially as it’s starting to fall off in some formats), but this is one of the ways WotC is going to sell the set, and it’s not like there are other green cards ready to take its place unless you’re double-upshifting Dryad Arbor (and more on that in a bit).

 

Scion of the Ur-Dragon:

Yes, this is the booby prize of the set, but this is clearly a mythic-feeling card that fits well.

 

Sliver Legion:

Conversely, this is the top card of the set, and while the price will drop after its first real reprint, it’ll probably recover quickly.

 

Akroma's Memorial:

Despite the reprint in Magic 2013 (and an appearance on The List) this is still over $30, and since it was already upgraded, it’s obviously going to be mythic here.

 

Cloud Key:

You might know this obscure Future Sight rare exists, but did you know it’s the most expensive artifact in the block? Cost reduction seems fine for a mythic, but even so the price means it’s going to be mythic.

 

Coalition Relic:

Of all the choices, this is the one I’m least happy with. It was Lotus Bloom before that was spoiled at rare, but either one would be an upshift from previous Masters sets. There’s also a squeeze at the rare slots, especially in colorless since there are ten lands to fit in.

 

Gauntlet of Power:

Yes, having this and Coalition Relic is weird, but this effect is much more mythic, and it needs a reprint more.

 

Gemstone Caverns:

This might be banned in multiple formats by the time the set launches, but it’s the most expensive colorless card in the set and a very mythic effect, so it’s an obvious choice.

 

Vesuva:

How has this only seen reprints in a From the Vault and The List? This is stretching mythic a bit (compare it to the uncommon Moriette of the Frost in Kaldheim), but it’s mythic enough, and the price is the ultimate factor.

 

Notable Omissions:

While a lot of cycles had to be chopped up (notably there’s only one Magus in each color), by necessity there are going to be a bunch of valuable cards cut. The most notable cut by a mile is Dryad Arbor, and to be honest, it’s because I’m not sure how it would fit. Maybe I should have upgraded it to rare and had it be green’s inclusion in the Academy Ruins cycle instead of Swarmyard (with that just as another rare), but rare was being crunched as-is. I feel like WotC just wants to forget about it, to be honest, and making another version that could be mistaken for a forest like the From the Vault version isn’t good. Next is Trickbind, which is a victim of the crunch at rare—maybe Paradox Haze (which I upshifted to rare, as it’s clearly a niche effect) could be cut instead, but that needs a reprint too and is more Limited-relevant. Slaughter Pact was a tough cut as well, and Retether doesn’t fit into the set at all (though neither does Daybreak Coronet). Those are all the cards above $5 that got cut, so only four (one of which was an intentional cut) is fine. If five more rares were added it could work (add those four cards plus Scourge of Kher Ridges or Greater Gargadon, the red rares on the margin).

 

The Timeshifted Sheet:

This is by far the hardest thing to predict in the set, as at first glance anything that hasn’t been in the classic frame can be here. However, I’m assuming nothing that modern will be there (certainly nothing in the past three years, and possibly nothing in the Arena era), and that there won’t be any mechanics that aren’t in the main set (which covers a wide range). I’m also assuming there won’t be any new variants of the old frame—in particular that excludes Planeswalkers, along with more minor things like enchantment creatures. As such, while I don’t have time to do a full version of the set I’m happy with, I did get far enough to split the cards into broad categories:

 

Limited Themes:

This is the category most people are going to forget, but is the most important for my purposes. This is where we use the mechanics to help the various archetypes. This is where things like Flameblade Adept and Alchemist's Greeting for BR Aggro, Glacial Stalker for WU Blink, and Striking Sliver for RW Slivers go.

 

Modern Cards:

Path to Exile and Cranial Plating are already confirmed for this slice, but there’s a lot more that could work. Weather the Storm seems like a lock, but this could go bigger—maybe all the way to Snapcaster Mage if WotC really wants to sell the set?

 

Eternal Cards:

This is obviously going to be the biggest slice, as Vintage and Legacy are the places people want old-border cards. Chalice of the Void is already confirmed, but other cards like Hollow One, Past in Flames, Life from the Loam, Infernal Tutor, Preordain, and more seem likely here. The only concern is that most of these cards are rares and mythics, and there should be a balance of rarities (as original Time Spiral was pretty flat, with 44 rares/47 uncommons/30 commons on its timeshifted sheet).

 

Casual Cards:

This is a mix of various cards in the non-competitive formats. Relentless Rats is geared towards 60 card casual, but I’m sure there will be Commander cards (Sliver Hivelord, another legendary creature or two) and cube cards (a Confluence, Craterhoof Behemoth) in there as well.

 

Other:

This category could also be called “cards most people don’t want.” I don’t know what the booby prize will be (Chimney Imp?), but expect at least a couple cards on the level of Squire and Consecrate Land.

 

Conclusion:

Even if Wizards has mostly forgotten about Time Spiral Remastered (why did we get Strixhaven spoilers already?), it’s shaping up to be an interesting set, and you can see my full design here. Speaking of Strixhaven, the Mystical Archives are interesting as a reprint subset, especially as it comes to adding things to Arena. Strangely, while all the cards are confirmed for Arena (they have to be for draft parity), Swords to Plowshares and Demonic Tutor have already been confirmed to not be part of Historic—though to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up in Historic once Pioneer Masters launches and Historic turns into “Arena Vintage/Legacy” (and I assume they’ll be legal in Historic Brawl). It could add some interesting cards to Pioneer though; even just looking at my old Pioneer Masters design cards like Anguished Unmaking, Traumatize, and Smash to Smithereens could fit (and that’s completely ignoring mechanics—Spell Mastery fits perfectly to the theme, and could even be in the main set).

 

As for me, I’ll be back next month when the full spoiler for Time Spiral Remastered drops, and then I’ll of course be around for Strixhaven as well. Until then.

 

Vincent

@VincentSIFTD on Twitter