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By: Cheater Hater, Vincent Borchardt
Mar 18 2021 1:00pm
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The time warp has brought back the time set, and it’s a very interesting design. However, before we talk about that, we need to talk about the Limited format. One important design note is that there are more commons and uncommons than usual, so while each individual card is less likely to appear than in a normal (large) set, there is a lot of duplication of basic effects. I’m also not going to go over all the mechanics, but you can check my old Time Spiral articles (particularly the Time Spiral Mechanics article) for an overview. Now let’s look at the archetypes!

 

Archetypes:

White/Blue: ETB Blink/Suspend Aggro

Virtually all of the nerfs I expected for the blink deck didn’t happen, as Stormfront Riders and Tolarian Sentinel got reprinted and Reality Acid wasn’t upshifted (though you’re naturally less likely to get multiple copies of the combo due to the larger number of commons). There’s also a separate deck based around playing bunch of cheap suspend creatures like Knight of Sursi and Infiltrator Il-Kor together, and since virtually all of them were reprinted at common (including Errant Ephemeron) that seems better than ever. You also get a bunch of good Morph creatures, and while both Shaper Parasite and Whip-Spine Drake were upshifted to uncommon, that’s still two more great cards that fit well in this deck.

 

Blue/Black: Flash Control

Conversely when Mystical Teachings gets a (justified) upshift to uncommon, it’s going to hurt the deck centered on it. It goes beyond that too: Logic Knot is the only common (blue) counterspell, and there aren’t as many Instants/cards with Flash as you’d expect. The deck is probably fine, especially since you still have Tendrils of Corruption, but it’s not a level ahead of the rest of the decks anymore.

 

Black/Red: Echo/Madness Aggro

I’m shocked at how aggressive Wizards was with this deck. Not only is Gathan Raiders back at common, most of the other good enablers are here too, while Reckless Wurm was downshifted to common and Strangling Soot stayed there. The only downgrades are upshifts of Henchfiend of Ukor and Lightning Axe to uncommon, and that isn’t that big a deal. I’m just worried the aggro deck isn’t fast enough to compete with all the good suspend cards.

 

Red/Green: Suspend Storm

The suspend side of this archetype is mostly unchanged from where I expected it to be (the main differences are Shivan Sand-Mage coming back and Fury Charm getting cut), and the storm side is better since Empty the Warrens wasn’t upshifted. The main difference is that Primal Forcemage gives it a more aggro angle, especially when you add Uktabi Drake and multiple ways to give your Slivers haste. This deck seems fine, but difficult to make work.

 

Green/White: Thallids

This deck lost basically nothing from the original Time Spiral (only Psychotrope Thallid, Herd Gnarr, and Sprout Swarm, and maybe Essence Warden if you’re stretching) and got Gaea's Anthem downshifted to uncommon (along with Fortify and Tromp the Domains returning). This feels like it could work, even before you consider the obvious plants on the Timeshifted sheet for it.

 

White/Black: Rebels

This deck feels like it should be in great shape, since it got virtually all the good rebels, and even some medium ones, while the only major changes are Bound in Silence downshifted to common and Saltfield Recluse being upshifted to uncommon. However, this is another case where the larger number of commons hurts, as you still only have Amrou Scout and Blightspeaker as your searchers. Obviously it’s still a great deck, but it seems a lot harder to get into.

 

Blue/Red: Suspend Tempo

This deck keeps most of the tools from the whole block: bounce like Snapback and Stingscourger, shadow creatures like Infiltrator Il-Kor and Drifter Il-Dal, efficient suspend creatures like Keldon Halberdier and Errant Ephemeron, tons of burn, and more. The cards don’t seem to have as high of a top-end as other decks, but a consistent aggro deck could work.

 

Black/Green: Midrange

This deck is a lot better than I thought it would be, as a lot of the generically-good creatures left on my cutting room floor like Mass of Ghouls, Penumbra Spider, and Imperiosaur. You also get a lot of recursion with both Pit Keeper and Grave Scrabbler, as well as Dread Return and Evolution Charm. I’m still not sure if raw card quality is good enough in this set, but it’s probably fine.

 

Red/White: Slivers

I mostly got Slivers right in my design (even hitting on the Poultice Sliver upshift), but Wizards went harder on it in some aspects and pulled back in others. On one hand, I did hit the focus in red and white (with one more common than I expected), and green also went as hard. On the other, there are no mono-blue/black slivers, and only six of the ten uncommon gold slivers were ported. As for the deck itself, the increased density of Silvers is good (and Lymph Sliver being common is a shock), which makes this another good aggro deck.

 

Green/Blue: Ramp

The ramp deck got a lot of surprise tools, including Llanowar Mentor and Greenseeker. I’m just worried that there aren’t enough good targets outside of Kavu Primarch—not even rares and the timeshifted sheet give a real target, unless you’re counting something like casting a ton of spells off Magus of the Future or Beast Whisperer. This seems like a bust, unless just playing a four-drop on Turn 3 is good enough.

 

Other Important Cards:

I mentioned fixing might be a problem, but Wizards has done its best to fix it, by keeping Terramorphic Expanse, Chromatic Star, and Prismatic Lens all at common, along with Paradise Plume and the storage lands at uncommon, combined with a bunch of green fixing. There’s also a ton of high-quality removal in every color (Green even kept Utopia Vow), which likely makes the decks reliant on a key creature (most notably the Rebel searchers and Tolarian Sentinel in the Reality Acid deck)) weaker. Slipstream Serpent is also an important common morph to keep in mind, along with the multiple morphs that break the five mana rule.

 

Design Review:

Mythic Rares:

I got 9 of 15 right, which isn’t that bad overall. My biggest miss was obviously the entire zero-cost suspend cycle being moved to mythic (except Lotus Bloom strangely). While it makes sense if you want multiple mythics of every color, it means cards like Hypergenesis get the upgrade, while others like Walk the Aeons and Temporal Extortion do not. The only other error was missing Crovax, Ascendant Hero, which in retrospect is an obvious mythic that can dominate the game as much as Teferi.

 

Notable Omissions:

The missing rares can mostly be split into two categories. The more understandable category is the more generic cards that have been reprinted a bunch, like the Future Sight lands, Bridge from Below, Rites of Flourishing, and the various Magus’s. However, the stranger ones are the expensive niche cards that have never been printed, like Imp's Mischief, Bitter Ordeal, Temporal Extortion, Gibbering Descent, and Trickbind. Part of the problem is that most of the cards are black so it’s hard to fit them all in, but there are still some strange choices.

 

The Timeshifted Sheet:

I am shocked at how good the timeshifted sheet is. Here I was, assuming it would be similar to the original timeshifted sheet with a couple chase cards and a lot of Limited-focused fodder. While relevant connections like Secret Plans, Stonehorn Dignitary, and Slimefoot, the Stowaway (along with some that hose it like Lavinia, Azorius Renegade), virtually all of the cards are actively desirable in at least one Constructed format, whether that’s Commander, Cube, Legacy, Modern, Pauper, or anything else. That’s going to make these cards extremely hard to get playsets of in paper (and likely on MTGO as well), and yet the old frame is one that people actually want.

 

Conclusion:

Overall Time Spiral Remaster was surprisingly impressive, without too many missteps, other than maybe some poor mythic choices. Of course, because Magic moves at 100 miles per hour these days, the same day the full card image gallery was launched we also got the reveal of Historic Anthology IV, and it’s by far the strangest one yet, with weird goals that feel like a counter-intuitive scattershot. The first grouping includes six cards that were missing from the Remastered sets, including important Constructed cards like Flameblade Adept and Inspiring Statuary (but still no Plague Belcher). Then there are a bunch of random cards from Commander sets, and while most don’t seem relevant, I’d keep an eye on Hamza, Guardian of Arashin whenever a +1/+1 counters deck emerges in Historic (likely when Hardened Scales appears in Pioneer Masters). Then we have support for Kaldheim themes, and we’ll see if it makes snow (with Coldsteel Heart as much as Marit Lage's Slumber), equipment (again, more for Bonesplitter than Sword of Body and Mind), or elves (Abomination of Llanowar might put it over the top, especially whenever we get Shaman of the Pack) into the Historic conversation. However, the strangest by far are the three cards from Shadows over Innistrad block, especially the clue cards. Presumably this means we aren’t getting Shadows over Innistrad Remastered and the cards are being thrown in Pioneer Masters instead? Or did Wizards need filler and put in a couple cards they had finished that would excite people? I guess we’ll see.

 

As for me, the next set I’m looking at is Strixhaven, so until then.

 

Vincent

@VincentSIFTD on Twitter