Time Spiral Remastered is a sweet throwback, where a curated list of Time Spiral block cards is put together to make an awesome set and draft experience. The set is of course a little different from drafting the original block, as it’s a selection of the cards instead of all of them, and the old-frame additions spice things up too. Still, I’ve put in tons of hours on the original draft format, so today I’ll be putting that expertise to good use. This article will break down the major themes in draft, give you my best guess as to which are the best and run down the top commons, the best rares and more. Let’s get to it!
Time Spiral doesn’t have the most rigid of set structure (which makes sense, given that the set has a lot of disparate elements). There are themes among the color pairs, and mostly you’re supposed to draft just two colors, but it’s more about individual card synergy and smaller combos than super dedicated decks. Here are a list of the main themes each color has:
All colors have Slivers, though the normal base for slivers is green, thanks to the five color theme. You can also play two or three Slivers in a two color deck and just have them combo with each other. Be aware that Time Spiral Slivers share with the opponent – everyone plays nice.
Bouncing Your Own Creatures
White’s main theme is Rebels, and it’s an overall aggressive color, with lots of flyers and flankers (if you’ve never played against flanking, well, just be aware that blocking is a bad idea). It also has a subtheme of bouncing your own stuff for profit, which can be pretty funny.
Blue is really tricky in TSP, and it’s one of the colors that thrives on micro-synergies. It’s all about morphs, suspend and enabling madness combos, and can play aggressively or defensively.
Black has two powerful card advantage themes in madness and Rebels, which makes it play on the controlling side (though Blightspeakers can add up in a Rebel beatdown deck).
Red is a beatdown-focused color as usua, and has some pretty wild themes. It’s hard to really get echo or storm to work, and madness is a light touch, so most of your red decks will be light on the theming.
Five Color Fixing
Green’s two major themes come across loudly. Saprolings (even without Sprout Swarm) and five color both can be great and are worth focusing on.
5. Morphs (blue)
3. Madness (black-based)
2. Rebels (black)
1. Rebels (white)
Rebels are the big winners here, as the theme works with as few as three cards and as many as you can get. The key is to get the Rebel searchers, as those are what really make the deck tick.
When looking at each color, I balance the raw power level of each common with how well it fits into its color’s themes. As with any pick order, these rankings change once you have a couple cards, but as is they reflect card strength for Pack 1, Pick 1.
1. Amrou Scout
I put a high premium on the Rebels cards, as Amrou Scout makes any Rebel a valuable resource in your deck. Note that it can fetch up Bound in Silence, which is pretty absurd. Once you have one or more Rebel searchers, I’d take Rebels over just about anything else. White got a lot of good removal, and the fact that Momentary Blink didn’t even crack the top five shows how strong it is.
4. Fathom Seer
There are some cards on this list worth talking about, since I remember the debates that raged back in 2007. Errant Ephemeron versus Looter il-Kor: which was the best blue common? I was always on the side of Ephemeron, and I’m confident that was right. If you haven’t played with suspend before, it’s a really powerful mechanic. You may have to wait four turns, but at the end of the day, a two-mana 4/4 flyer is busted, and I won’t be passing many Ephemerons.
The rest of the blue commons are basically all card draw. Notable on the list is Dreamscape Artist, as it’s the best of the madness enablers and can offer up the possibility of a five color blue archetype as well.
2. Ichor Slick
Both Strangling Soot and Ichor Slick are absurd two-for-ones and should be taken accordingly. The joke with Slick is that you can cycle it and madness it, making it a cantrip removal spell, and the joke with Soot is that you cast it twice. Blightspeaker is also very strong and can drive the black Rebel engine by itself.
Note that black has a bunch of strong madness commons, and all of them can move up the list if you have enough enablers.
3. Dead // Gone
1. Rift Bolt
Red’s commons are fairly weak here. Rift Bolt and Gathan Raiders are great, but it drops off a cliff after that. Gathan Raiders is a great tempo play and a good madness enabler, and it even becomes a 5/5 later in the game. Note that every color is going to snipe Gathan Raiders, so it barely counts as a red card.
Gemhide Sliver is, well, a gem. It powers out big creatures, enables multiple colors and is just broken in the Sliver deck. As for which random green creature you want past that, it just depends on what your deck is doing. All of the rest are fairly close, though Sporoloth Ancient is the most powerful on its own merits. This set was also made before green got actual removal, so no fight cards to be found here.
Now that you have a rough idea of the themes of the set and what the best commons are, let’s just take a look at some tier lists. Thanks to 17lands.com, that’s made easy, and this tier list will rank all of the best cards of each color. Cards in a similar tier are comparable across colors, and cards at the bottom are largely unranked, since I’m mostly just looking at the top of the heap.
One card I want to call out in particular is Crystal Shard.
If you haven’t played with or against this card, you may not realize how messed up it is. This card is bananas, and can be both the most fun or most frustrating card in the world, depending on which side you’re on.
If you play a creature on turn three, and their turn four play is to play land and Shard your creature, imagine how the game plays out. You can replay your creature with a land untapped, but then they can wait and go end of turn Shard, untap and Shard again. That results in you needing to keep tons of lands untapped, and them still able to use their card to block and bounce their own creature, stop your removal spells and re-trigger ETBs. Damage used to stack, but even without that, this card is a beating. Don’t underrate it.
As I get my hands on the set, I’ll have more specific info and can write deck guides and the like. For now, this should get you started. The set looks like a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to crack some open.