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Time Spiral – Do you want a flake with that?

By Dr. Chunk


Before I go into the main thing I wish to share my lead up to pre-release weekend. Long weekend from work, out on Thursday night. Lovely meal, get picked up by Mrs. who then rams car into nearest lamppost and writes off £15,000 worth of convertible:


But like the Murphy’s, I’m not bitter!


Anyway. There is something special about pre-release day. Even more so when it is the dawning of a new block. It is the first opportunity we get to see, play, taste and feel the new set. A time of bad card choices, experimentation and telling oneself you know what the format is all about before you find out how misjudged you were.


I like to use new set time to decide which card I think is least likely to have an impact and then suggest everyone go out and buy four of them:


“Urza’s Rage? – Costs a lot of mana to kicker. Not Likely to see much play.”


“I think Kodama of the South Tree is the best of the Kodama’s. Who needs 6/4 trampling untargetability?”


You get the picture…


For those of you who do not browse and trawl the rumour boards you will not have noticed the absolute paucity of sneaky peeks since the renowned Rancored Elf vs. WotC. The rumour season spoilers are fewer and further between and more often I now find myself having to wait for Wizards “official” previews. Not that I have a problem with that and in some respects not seeing the full spoiler a week before the event is quite good.


So Friday Night Magic had come and gone. I managed a 3-1 with a straight forward Solar Flare deck with sneaky Clutch of the Undercity tech. I had access to the full spoiler by this time but I elected not to pore over every card and dissect every possible trick. Sometimes it is nice to be a bit surprised once in a while.


Saturday morning and I make my way into Coventry to Bishop Games for my first day of a long, hard pre-release weekend. The numbers are quite surprising at 31 (given the usual FNM turnout being half that). The plan is for 6 rounds straight Swiss with a side order of draft afterwards. I sit down ready for my packs when I am unexpectedly asked to stand up and give a rules primer to everyone in the room. This shocks me even more as I have yet to be bothered to read the full rules descriptions but it goes quite well and I even get to plug this site on the way through!


My pool arrives and I cautiously, delicately and purposefully open my boosters and lay them into nice little colour piles. Part of me wants to rush straight to the rare and purple and scream like a girl when I open something bomb-tastic…


But I am a grown man after all…


Moving swiftly on to the pool:


























Artifact / Land




















2x Assassinate


Aetherflame Wall


Aether Web


Chromatic Star



Benalish Cavalry


Brine Elemental


Call to the Netherworld


Barbed Shocker


Durkwood Baloth


Chronatog Totem



2x Children of Korlis


Fathom Seer


Cyclopean Giant


Bonseplitter Sliver


Gaea's Blessing


Forysian Totem





Giant Oyster


Dauthi Slayer


2x Coal Stoker


3x Herd Gnarr


Vensers Sliver



Detainment Spell


2x Looter il-kor


2x Deathspore Thallid


Eron the Relentless


2x Might of Old Krosa


Weatherseed Totem



Divine Congregation


Magus fo the Jar


Evil Eye of Urborg


Ground Rift







Errant Doomsayers


Ophidian Eye


2x Gorgon Recluse


Ironclaw Buzzardiers


2x Pendelhaven Elder


Saltcrusted Steppe



2x Fortify


Psionic Sliver


2x Living End




Penumbra Spider


Urza's Factory



Pentarch Paladin


Riftwing Cloudskate


Magus of the Mirror


Rift Bolt


Savage Thallid





2x Spirit Loop


Sage of Epityr


Mana Skimmer


Tectonic Fiend


Thallid Germinator





Watcher Sliver


Screeching Sliver


Pit Keeper


Thick-Skinned Goblin


Thallid Shell-Dweller





Zealot il-vec


Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir


Premature Burial


Undying Rage


Thrill of the Hunt







Temporal Eddy




2x Viashino Bladescout









Think Twice


2x Tendrils of Corruption


Wildfire Emissary









Tolarian Sentinel


Viscid Lemures






















It’s peanut-butter-white-space time! Peanut-butter-white-space time!







…is this really necessary?







…anyone even read this bit?







…let me know on the forum and I’ll stop doing it.







So what did you come up with? Are you happy? Is it your final answer?


The list that follows should be very close to my actual deck but in my incredible wisdom I dismantled the whole thing so I could do the list above. Yay for brains!


A few notes on the colours:


White – Pentarch Paladin is undeniably a bomb. He is also undeniably un-splashable and give the shallowness of the white we have to discard him with the rest of the chaff. Chronosavant looks like he could be fun but there is a difference between fun and good. A bit like eating a whole tub of Ben & Jerry’s.


Blue The selling point here is double looter man. He is the absolute nuts when it comes to sifting through the deck and does a good job at running the madness. Cloudskate is a flying Ogre Savant and Fathom seer is Gush on legs. Teferi is interesting but  is rather restrictive. I admit here that I underestimated the Magus.


Black – Dauthi Slayer gives more shadow beats and Assassinate and Tendrils are solid removal. I have a personal fetish with Sangrophage and Magus looks like fun. Evil eye is HUGE although he is a bit risky as he stops the shadow.


Red – A good number of creatures, including Eros the Heartbreaker, but the removal is somewhat lacking.


Green – Maybe I misunderstand Herd Gnarr. Maybe he is actually quite good. A good number of beefy men with some solid combat tricks thrown in for good measure. Thallids FTW as well!


Artifact/Land/Gold – A selection of Totems are good and the star is very good at fixing and digging.



And the decklist:



Let’s Get Diggin’ by Dr. Chunk


// Creatures

    2  Looter il-Kor

    1  Riftwing Cloudskate

    1  Dauthi Slayer

    1  Gorgon Recluse

    1  Pit Keeper

    1  Sangrophage

    1  Brine Elemental

    1  Fathom Seer

    1  Cyclopean Giant

    1  Mana Skimmer

    1  Evil Eye of Urborg

    1  Viscid Lemures

    1  Magus of the Mirror







// Lands

    1  Urza's Factory

    6  Island

    10  Swamp


// Spells

    1  Chromatic Star

    1  Think Twice

    1  Premature Burial

    2  Assassinate

    1  Chronatog Totem

    1  Temporal Eddy

    2  Tendrils of Corruption


So the deck is built and I fear facing anyone with an Akroma or maybe the guy behind me with double Mystic Enforcer. My aim is to get down some early shadow and ride it to victory. 17 land is probably more than enough for this deck but I anticipated diggin’ and pitching them to the looter anyway.


Onto the games (with pictures from my camera phone as I forgot the real one and dodgy notes as my brain is dodgy):


Round 1: Darren “Fonz” Medforth…


Darren’s a Coventry regular though he more often turns up and doesn’t play than does. He was part of the team that won our 2HG Champs last year and is a good player.


Game 1: I get an early Looter and rip through my deck. Soon enough I drop a big Eye and plough through his blockers in no time. Tendrils gain me eight life and I finish game one on 26 life.


Game 2: I get Pit Keeper turn 2, morph turn three, totem turn four and gorgon turn five. We trade beats for a while but premature detah clears a path and a suspended flyer finishes the job.


Score 1-0 (2-0)


Round 2: Biggsy!


If you have read my articles you already know about this man.


Game 1: I just remember being beaten down by 2/2 flankers and not putting much of a fight.


Game 2: I apologise as my notes say nothing in detail but I win for sure.


Game 3: We trade early beats while his flankers come to town. Biggsy then decides that mana screw is the order of the day and fails to find enough to hold me back.



Score 2-0 (4-1)


Round 3: Ollie


I forgot to get a picture of Ollie but you can see him the background of round 5. Ollie went on to win the tournament undefeated and had some particularly rude cards that I only saw a few of (Stonewood Invocation and Sudden Spoiling spring to mind). I managed to take game 2 off of him when I got a lightning start of turns 2 and 3 looter. I made a mistake by discarding my Lemures rather than my Eye, meaning that I could no long swing unheeded with the shadow men. This was further worsened when he dropped the Sardapian token generator to make infinite chumps and forcing me to assassinate my own Eye.


Score 2-1 (5-3)


Round 4: Matty McFlurry


Matty is a good player who often tries to mind game me into submission. His t2 is always big creatures, mana acceleration and removal and works depressingly well!


Game 1: I know this man has double Enforcer and I am particularly scared by this. I get a fast start game 1 with turn 2 looter into a madness Gorgon turn 3. Turn four I drop the Dauthi slayer and another looter and they go the distance.


Game 2: Turn 2 Slayer is followed by double morph while he stalls with an Errant Doomsayer. He ultimately succumbs to the beats though.



Score 3-1 (7-3)


Round 5: Bogi


Bogi has recently moved down to Coventry and is a very good and experienced player. He plays well and plays fairly and he’s also a good laugh.


Game 1: Magus of the Scroll

Game 2: No Magus of the Scroll

Game 3: Magus of the Scroll


I lose 2-1. There’s not much to say other than Rich’s reply to first turn Magus:




Score 3-2 (8-5)


Round 6: Adam…


I have seen Adam around the shop before but rarely play against him. I pray I win as I can see a large chunk of ratings being eaten if I lose (not that I am a shallow man).


Game 1: I get a second turn Dauthi Slayer and third turn I get a choice between a morph and a suspend guy. I drop the morph and continue the beats while he Rift bolts his way through my board. While he draws burn I draw men and beat him down down. Tendrils clears a late blocker and I swing past for the win.


Game 2: He gets mana flooded and I ride a Sangrophage to victory.



The final result is a respectable 4-2 placing me at 5th and winning myself a whole six boosters or so. I have to say I was impressed with the overall speed of the format. Everything seemed very aggressive and lead to a lot of discussion about whether playing or drawing was the right thing to do. As a general rule we all know that you draw in sealed but I have to profess to choosing to play almost all day for fear of getting behind on the creature beats.


The set itself I found to be very enjoyable. I was concerned when I saw how much nostalgia Wizards were trying to cram down our throats but it did not feel that way once the games got running. The time shifted cards are also quite pleasing and add a little extra interest to each booster you open:


“Is Giant Oyster a good answer to Mystic Enforcer?” Discuss.


A few notes about the deck and day:


1) I forgot to include the blue Magus. Having played with him in draft he is rather silly!

2) I need not have included the black Magus. He is not as silly as I hoped.

3) Teferi is fun but the triple blue got him cut.

4) I almost played Call to the Netherworld over Think Twice which would have been a mistake.


Bonus – TS Draft numero uno!


After the main event 14 of us stayed behind for some drafting. This was possibly one of the most difficult drafts ever purely because I had put no value to any of the cards yet. I went into the draft hoping to draft UB shadow men (as per the sealed) with some suspend men for later on. My first pack had no “PICK ME!” cards that leapt out and certainly little of strength in blue or black. I therefore took Outrider en-kor with a view to trying out an aggressive flanking approach. I then tried to get into blue which failed rather miserably but I picked up a few late black cards and considered going UB instead. Pack two I get all confused pick one and find it difficult to choose my colours appropriately. I pick up a number of Coral Tricksters but still have not got myself properly set. Pack three was depressing but I made a vow at this point to take all the black that was running through my hands.


The deck ended up WB as it seemed that the curve there was better than the UB. The blue-black deck was all 2 drops and morphs and little late game. However I failed to recognise that my white “late game” was in fact a Guscloak Cavalier – a 2/2 for five which is good on the offence but not so good on the defence. My favourite picks ended up being a pair of Sangrophages, a pair of Smallpox and a pair of Phyrexian totems!


A sensible plan was sideboarding into UB after game one which I did to some small success. I played Callum round one and could not keep up with his hordes of slivers despite my best efforts to weasel out a win. Round two I played Nigel and his morphing blue men. A particularly good play on his behalf was blocking a totem with a morph, flipping it up to reveal Vesuvan Shapeshifter only to copy my Totem. So we all sacrificed 5 permanents (though admittedly this was in one of the following friendly games and not the main event). Round 3 I played Matty Norton and just remember hitting him with lots of animated Totems! I think he took a game off me but I can’t remember where…


So in summary…




Looter il-kor – So much card draw makes my brain hurt. This guy may not have dealt too much damage but he certainly dug like a beast.

Split Second – Though I did not have any decent SS cards the ones played against me were often rather rude.

Totems – All are playable, some even bombs. Phyrexian or Weatherseed beats are good.

Tendrils of Corruption – Solid removal, instant speed plus allows the Sangrophage some more meat to chew on.




Magus of The Scroll – “Curses!”

Stonewood Invocation – Just seems rude. This would be props if I had one!

First Pack, First Pick - No Idea!


Somewhere else:


Sangrophage – Maybe not as good as I think he is but I can’t rightly place him Props or Slops at the moment.


So a good fun day was had by me and hopefully all. Next on my travels I venture out of County to Brum and we see what joys that brings us (with even worse match notes than before).