Limiting Time Spiral – Izzet Possible?
By Dr. Chunk
It is rapidly approaching the official release of Time Spiral (TS) onto the streets of the world and soon to be PT Kobe and PTQ Geneva season. This means that for the foreseeable future Time Spiral limited is the format to be learning. Yes there is Champs and the exploration of a new Standard but we all know limited is the place to be.
So post pre-release we have seen some of the cards, started to get an idea of the format and begun to figure where our pick orders lay. Thankfully the pre-releases were kind enough to gain me some prize support (posting 5th on Saturday, 4th on Sunday and still losing ranking points despite an 11-4 record for the weekend!) and with these boosters and a selection of friends I have had the opportunity to draft a few times.
But Time spiral has a lot to live up to post-Ravnica. RGD draft was an immensely fun, intensely skill testing and incredibly repeatable format. By this time with CHK, MDF and even OLS drafts I was saturated and looking on to the next shiny object on the horizon – and I didn’t even draft them as many times as I drafted RGD!
Somewhere in the middle was the heathen child of Coldsnap – a format that showed me no love and a feeling I reciprocated. What good came of Coldsnap? It buffered the space between RGD and TS. If it weren’t for CS I would have (possibly) resented TS for not being as good.
However I have to admit I love Time Spiral draft. The format is so deep and strong that I have still many, many paths to explore. The added power of the purple cards just increases the variety and makes early picks really crucial. The format seems to be pretty fast but it is still in its infancy. I think particularly of Rav/Rav/Rav draft – Initially Boros was the way but this soon petered out to a dominating Dimir mill. Until someone breaks the format open we will just have to do as best we can.
To that end I wish to talk about blue-red in Time spiral and the limited success I have had with it. It may only be a few drafts but what more can you expect at this stage!
So far red blue seems to be about the usual – blue fliers, red burn – and we have a plethora of both to collect. The curve has to be pretty aggressive as the format itself is currently very fast. This is greatly helped by the number of morph creatures available in blue and the good 2 drops and echo men in red. In addition to this we get two solid common suspend creatures with some good support creatures. There are also plenty of powerful uncommons, rares and time shifted cards that get the pick over commons, but these are seen less frequently.
An example blue red deck from a recent draft (which I won 2-1-0) is:
Blue Red Burn by Dr. Chunk
// Creatures (15)
1 Mogg War
1 Goblin Skycutter
1 Coral Trickster
2 Flowstone Channeler
1 Viashino Bladescout
1 Spiketail Hatchling
2 Crookclaw Transmuter
1 Coal Stoker
1 Keldon Halberdier
1 Eron the Relentless
1 Magus of the Jar
2 Errant Ephemeron
// Lands (17)
// Spells (8)
1 Whispers of the Muse
2 Lightning Axe
1 Sudden Shock
1 Orcish Cannonade
1 Empty the
Rather than discuss every single card in great detail I am going to go through what I feel are high picks from the common runs. Obviously there are uncommons and rares / purples you would pick over these in some cases but this will give you an idea of what I am looking for.
High Pick Commons (Picks 1-4):
Errant ephemeron – 4/4 flying for 7 mana is nothing special but suspending this man out on turn 2 or 3 gives some real mid game power. He ends the game quickly once he gets out and is one of the main kills in the deck.
Lightning Axe – Although it card disadvantage in a pure sense there is little to argue with 5 damage for one mana and an excess land. One of the best burn spells you can get so pick it high.
Fathom Seer – This creature is always a morph and then he is a gush on legs. Not only does he draw cards but he blocks, kills and then survives a morph trade with no mana open.
Looter il-kor – If you have seen my pre-release report you will see how much I love this guy. He doesn’t deal the most damage in the world but he rips through your library and finds what you need.
Rift Bolt – Another strong burn spell that only lacks from its sorcery speed. It makes up for this with flexibility of suspend as long as you can wait the turn.
Snapback (a.k.a. Bounce of Will) – I may be going out on a limb but I absolutely love this card. Alone it is unsummon with the ability to play it while tapped out is invaluable. I may be alone but I pick these high. Not quite first pick first pack but not far off. Conveniently (at this time) these are going reasonably late around my draft tables but I doubt that will last.
Mid Range Commons (picks 5-8):
Crookclaw Transmuter – Not only does this man kill walls at instant speed he is one of the best “combat tricks” blue red has outside of bounce and burn. On top of that he comes out at end of turn as three points of flying beats if absolutely necessary. “Damage on Stack?” and this man were made to be together.
Blazing Blade Askari – Nothing exciting but aggressive and flanking can be important. His colour loss ability seems mostly irrelevant.
Spiketail Drakeling – A reasonably high pick as it is a good evasive flyer with a potential to throw itself at your opponents bombs, or at least delay them two turns.
Goblin Skycutter – This man does everything you could want from a two drop other than him dying to any saprolings going. He is easily capable of taking down a good number of fliers and can also get flying blockers out of the way if absolutely need be.
Coal Stoker – A 3/3 for four deals with opposing morphs and allows explosive Stoker à Morph turns.
Orcish Cannonade – The poor mans Char it may be but do not underestimate “Draw a Card”.
Coral Trickster – A morph is always good and his trick, with a cheap morph cost, makes him solid.
Keldon Halberdier – A great man to suspend turn one and without removal there is little that either gets past or stands in the way of this man.
Grapeshot – Takes a bit of working around but once you get stormed above 2 it is well worth it and rips through thallid spawn like there’s no tomorrow.
Late Commons (Picks 8-12) – worth picking one or two up late:
Flowstone Channeler – He may look unspectacular but this Grey Ogre kills a fair number of creatures. Repeatedly! He does also come around quite late.
Temporal Eddy – A sorcery bounce is not always useful but is Vedalken Dismisser without the bear.
Ironclaw Buzzardiers – A 2/2 flier is respectable but often the 3 drop slot is chock full of morphs.
Viscerid Deepwalker – With or without suspend this guy is far from exciting yet not unplayable. Fire breathing in blue seems strange!
Bogardan Rager – A poor combat trick on an unimpressive set of stats for more than I really want to pay.
Mogg War Marshall – He makes chumps like a good goblin should and that’s his only role in this deck.
Cards I NEVER want to see anyone play (except when playing against me):
Conflagrate – For 5 mana you kill two x/1’s or one x/2. Then you discard 2 cards to deal 1 damage. This is inefficient in the absolute extreme.
Bewilder – It may draw you a card but Dizzy Spell is still really bad, even as a cantrip.
Eternity Snare – Again do not get distracted by cantrips. This card costs too much.
Finally I come onto some uncommons of note. Some of these are definite first picks whereas others are a strong addition to any deck but something may convince you to otherwise pass them:
Firemaw Kavu – This man is rude in the extreme and especially in U/R. If you look closely you see that his second ability triggers on “leaving play” not being put into the graveyard. Cue some awesome bouncing power. I used one Kavu, backed up by Snapback, to single handed-ly ruin many an opponents day.
Careful Consideration – A constructed worthy card draw spell is just as good in limited.
Sudden Shock – The split second mechanic is incredibly powerful and the block shock is, as always, a very strong early pick.
Fledgling Mawcor – An awesome man with solid stats, evasion, morph AND ping thrown in. Pick it high or you are sending the wrong signal.
Riftwing Cloudskate – A flying Ogre Savant that also has suspend is very strong.
Wipe Away – Split Second is just as strong as boomerang.
So there we have a quick run through of my early Time Spiral experiences. There is still much to explore in this format but I leave you with some pros and cons and a final example decklist.
Kavu Go “Boing” by Dr. Chunk (3-0)
// Creatures (18)
1 Thick Skinned Goblin
1 Goblin Skycutter
1 Fathom Seer
3 Blazing Blade Askari
1 Spiketail Drakeling
3 Crookclaw Transmuter
2 Fledgling Mawcor
1 Avalanche Riders
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
1 Keldon Halberdier
2 Errant Ephemeron
1 Firemaw Kavu
// Lands (17)
// Spells (5)
1 Wipe Away
1 Temporal Eddy
1 Careful Consideration
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