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Posted: Wed Mar 07, 2007 1:39 pm
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A close analysis of the common cards in the Time Spiral set from the perspective of drafting. Which cards are good? Which are underpowered? Which are under-appreciated? And what are the top five commons of Time Spiral?
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Time Spiral Draft Guide - The Common Cards

Time Spiral has been out for awhile now, and the drafting scene has been shaken up by the addition of a pack of Planar Chaos. Iíve been drafting Time Spiral since its release and here present to you my thoughts on an important subject for limited play - the common cards. This is a fairly detailed look at all the common cards in Time Spiral, together with some combos which are worth looking out for, and my opinions on the relative strength of the cards. Obviously these are just my own opinions, reflecting my personal playing experience here in Oxford, UK, so feel free to disagree with what I have to say. I apologise for the length of this article, but Time Spiral is a big set! At the end I will give you my top 5 Time Spiral commons, some general thoughts on Limited play with TTP, and an appendix of good commons in Planar Chaos. Enjoy a walk through time:


Amrou Scout
The basis of the rebel chain. Not worth taking by themselves but once you have some other rebels, the value of these guys go up immensely, giving you great card advantage. With the addition of Planar Chaos, you now have access to black rebels as well as white, so if youíre in B/W, take these when you get the opportunity. Letís take a look at all the rebels you can pull sorted by rarity.

Amrou Scout
Amrou Seekers
Children of Korlis (probably donít want to use these guys)
Errant Doom-Sayers
Zealot il-Vec

Knight of the Holy Nimbus
Outrider en-Kor

Defiant Vanguard (timeshifted, so unlikely to get in a draft)

Aven Riftwatcher
Blightspeaker (a black version of Amrou Scout)
Rathi Trapper
Saltfield Recluse

Big Game Hunter
Dunerider Outlaw
Riftmarked Knight (works best with suspend)

Probably the best rebel chains will have some of the Knights as well as the common rebels. If you can pull the Knight of the Holy Nimbus or the Outrider en-Kor, then a small rebel chain will also suit you well.

COMBO - Amrou Scout + Big Game Hunter = play the Big Game Hunter from your draw deck to kill a creature with Strength 4 or greater, at instant speed.

Amrou Seekers
Not first-pick worthy material, but good if you know youíre already in White, or have started to pick up a rebel chain. They are aggressive creatures that work well with Fortify and other strength boosts. Will almost always make an aggressive W/x build.

Benalish Cavalry
Suffers from not being a rebel, but two mana for a 2/2 creature with Flanking is very good in an aggressive build. Early game, your opponent will be unlikely to block them and you can get in some quick points of damage. Again, not a first pick but a solid choice mid-pack when youíre in white already.

Castle Raptors
The cream of the white common crop. For 5 mana you get a 3/3 flyer who has 5 toughness when untapped. Always good later in the game though obviously better on defence than offence. A reasonable first pick.

Children of Korlis
Simply put, White has better uses for the 1 drop 1/1 creature than this. Itís very defensive and will probably simply be too little too late. A poor choice of rebel unless youíre really desperate.

Cloudchaser Kestrel
A solid creature. 3 mana for a 2/2 flyer is very respectable. Destroying an enchantment is sometimes very useful, especially if you can get rid of an enemy Temporal Isolation. The trouble is that White has good Limited enchantments so you need to play carefully to avoid destroying your own. The ability to turn things White plays well with some cards but is particularly good at killing Skulking Knight and Gossamer Phantasm.

COMBO - Cloudchaser Kestrel + Pentarch Ward = Choose Protection from White and then make everything white as needed. Good for offence and defence.

Cloudchaser Kestrel + Ivory Giant = About to tap all non-white creatures? Save your own. Works in a non-mono white deck, in which the Ivory Giant can sometimes be a bit of a pain.

Díavenant Healer
I have to say that I have not found a use for this healer. Three mana for a 1/2 creature, with 1WW just seems a little labour intensive. White has better choices for an aggressive deck though this might make a control build.

Detainment Spell
Not worth the card in most situations. As a sideboard against Thallid decks I can see the point of this but otherwise leave it at home.

Divine Congregation
Life gain spells are very boring in Limited play and can lead to lots of draws or long games. This can gain you a lot of life but life gain doesnít win matches.

Errant Doomsayers
Not a great rebel but not the worst. He is very vulnerable to damage and his tap ability is only really useful for small creatures (though if you tap a Groundbreaker, more power to you). Might make a control build if using a Rebel chain.

Flickering Spirit
A mana-intensive card, 4 mana for a 2/2 flyer isnít that great but in the long run this guy can stall out an attack and dodge targeted removal. Worth putting in a control deck, especially if you expect enemy flyers.

Foriysian Interceptor
I have not found a deck I want to put him in. Too expensive without any ability to permanently take out a creature. There are better uses for 4 mana.

Love this card! Assemble an army of weenie soldiers and swing for the win, or save your best creatures from unfavourable/unexpected blocks. If I get up to two in a white deck, I will be very likely to play them (assuming I have lots of creatures). More than that is too many but up to two play very well.

Gaze of Justice
Unless youíre putting out dozens of white creatures, the cost of this card is just too high. Worth considering in a mono-white control type deck but really difficult to pull off and stops three of your guys from attacking or using other abilities.

Icatian Crier
A decent spellshaper whether building an aggressive deck or a control deck. Vulnerable to being pinged to death but if you get the chance to Fortify an army of Soldiers, you will know it was worth the risk.

Ivory Giant
A good use of mana for turn one, setting yourself up for a potentially lethal swing five turns later. Make sure you get in the early damage with flanking creatures and Amrou Seekers and then the Ivory Giant can help make up the rest. Aggressive builds only, unless...

COMBO - Ivory Giant + Momentary Blink = Tap all non-white creatures at instant speed. This allows the Giant to be used in more of a control route but is heavily dependant on your opponent not playing white.

Jeditís Dragoons
Six mana is a lot, and you expect more than you get from the Cat Soldiers. By the time they come into play, theyíre probably too late to make any difference. Not a terrible choice to Momentary Blink, though.

Momentary Blink
This card has huge combo potential, much of which, unfortunately, is left untapped in a Draft setting. Still, the ability to dodge targeted removal or lethal combat damage is often enough. Definitely worth considering for any control deck but might not make the final cut.

COMBOS - Momentary Blink + Mangara of Corondor = Remove target permanent from the game. If you pick up Mangara, look for the blinks.

Momentary Blink + Aven Riftwatcher = reset Vanishing and gain 4 life in the process.

Pentarch Ward
An interesting card to use in Limited. It offsets part of the natural card disadvantage of an Aura by giving you a replacement card when you play it. The trick is timing your play of it so that your opponent cannot kill or bounce the creature in response. Iím happy to use one or two in a deck, as they can really make life difficult for your opponent but most of the time itís better to either play a creature of your own or be able to take out an opponentís creature.

Sidewinder Sliver
Even if you arenít playing Slivers, a 1 mana 1/1 creature with Flanking ought to be considered. In an aggressive deck, this is a very strong first turn play. If youíre playing Slivers, then definitely take them. However, this card alone would not persuade me to start playing slivers.

Temporal Isolation
A very high pick. Effectively takes out most creatures. Having Flash is a huge advantage, as is the prevention of all damage the creature would deal (so you can put it on Prodigal Pyromancer). If youíre playing a deck with lots of Shadow creatures, however, this might cause you more trouble than itís worth.

Watcher Sliver
This is the common Sliver that would make me play Slivers. 4 mana 2/4 isnít great, but giving every sliver +0/+2 is awesome and makes them very difficult to kill. 4 toughness puts slivers out of reach of most removal spells (barring Sudden Death, Lightning Axe and others) and really gives you the edge to win games.

Zealot il-Vec
Not at all sure about him. He is a Rebel, that works in control and Aggressive builds, simply by having Shadow but being able to ping creatures. 1 toughness is bad for a 3 mana creature and the Zealots are definitely better in multiples. He isnít necessarily bad but there are often better choices available.


Great flavour text but I have never found this card worth actually using. The cost is too high and Blue has better choices for three mana. As combat tricks go, it isnít that useful.

There is a certain security you feel holding a cancel in hand with three mana open. That security is nice but make sure you use this card on the most important spell because once the card is in play, itís too late. And that is exactly the problem with Cancel - it is hard to know when to use it, and so it often ends up getting wasted. It also does not offer a threat to your opponent. Once you have strong board position, these are great to ensure the win, but if you are already behind, a Cancel probably wonít help. I take these mid-pack if Iím in blue but they are not a priority.

I havenít found clockspinning to be a good limited tool. Youíre almost always better off with a Fury Charm. Having said that, if your opponent has lots of vanishing creatures, these might just be the ticket.

Coral Trickster
Not the best morph out there, but cheap to unmorph and potentially useful both on offence and defence. Still, I tend to avoid them unless playing with several other morphs, in which case the more the merrier.

Crookclaw Transmuter
The ability to come into play as a 1/3 flyer before swinging back as a 3/1 is quite funky, though the Transmuter is perhaps a little too unwieldy for many games, and 1 toughness makes him quite vulnerable. He does combo well with Dream Stalker (who can become a 5/1) and Momentary Blink.

Dream Stalker
A curious creature who, at first glance looks terrible. However, if you have no land to play for a turn he is simply a 1/5 for two mana, which isnít bad. He can rescue your guys from negative enchantments, such as Temporal Isolation. More importantly, he is a very good combo with Reality Acid, allowing you to take out any permanent. All in all, worth taking mid-pack when Blue is running thin. A generally defensive creature with some interesting combos and interactions with other cards.

Drifter il-Dal
A very aggressive creature who will tie up your mana if you want to keep him alive. One or two in an aggressive build might make sense but certainly donít use any more than that.

Errant Ephemeron
A very good creature and possibly the best Blue common card. At four toughness, he is difficult to kill and is an easy suspend on turn two of the game. Very efficient use of mana and a powerful creature. Definitely first pick worthy.

Eternity Snare
Too expensive for not enough power.

Fathom Seer
A nice morph. Having a real toughness of three is useful when your opponent tries to kill the morph, and not having a mana cost to unmorph him is also nice. Drawing cards is great but it can seriously injure your development. If you donít need the blue mana but need the cards, then do it but be careful.

Looter il-Kor
Another great Blue common. The looter is best in a blue/black madness deck but even without madness cards, the looter can thin your deck and get you exactly what you need. A worthy first or second choice.

Mystical Teachings
Good in constructed, unlikely to be much use in limited.

Ophidian Eye
On a Looter il-Kor, this is great card advantage but most often you will have better uses for three mana. Probably better left in a sideboard.

Sage of Epityr
In a hand with little land, it is tempting to keep it if you have an island and a Sage of Epityr. The trouble comes if your top four cards are all useless... I actually really like him as Blueís one-drop, as he can really streamline your play before being a chump block later on.

Screeching Sliver
If you are playing slivers, this guy gives you an alternative win condition which is sometimes extremely useful. If you arenít playing blue slivers (and blue slivers are by no means the best), steer clear.

Shadow Sliver
I actually think his place is in a non-sliver deck. Making your slivers unblockable is fine and dandy, as long as you also donít need them to block. I would avoid the Shadow Sliver even if in slivers, but it is good sideboard material either against slivers or in case you fight an opponent with lots of Shadow creatures. Of course, if you can sacrifice it at will (by means of the Planar Chaos slivers for example) then this could work very well, allowing you to swing unblocked, only to lose shadow as you need it.

Slipstream Serpent
An interesting morph creature. The trick, if your opponent doesnít have an island, is to swing with it face down, then turn it over and deal 6 damage. Of course, you can only do that once without some bounce tricks. It then becomes a 6/6 blocker. Not too terrible but I have yet to see it work wonders.

One of my favourite blue commons, Snapback can really save you in a pinch. it is flexible, allowing you to save your own creatures from death or enchantments as well as getting rid of irritating creatures that oppose you. You can even play it when you have no mana open. I love this card and find it under-drafted in my area.

Spiketail Drakeling
Three mana for a 2/2 flyer is very nice, and the threat that you can counter any spell your opponent plays is damaging to their play. As long as they focus on it, they will avoid playing their big spell in the hope that you will waste it on less important things. Pay attention to the game state and your opponentís body language to try to work out which spell you simply have to stop, and which you should let through. Unlike Cancel, however, the Spiketail Drakeling can be killed before he does his thing. Thatís life but at least it will slow your opponent down while giving you an efficient, evasive creature.

Temporal Eddy
There is both tempo and card advantage to be gained by this card, getting rid of a creature or a land and stopping your opponent from drawing another card instead. Unfortunately, at 4 mana it is probably a little expensive to see play in most limited builds. If your opponent is mana screwed however, this can really ruin their day, giving them a whole extra turn in which they will not have the land they need.

Think Twice
Thinking once is good but twice is better. This card easily fits into any Blue deck but isnít essential for any.

Tolarian Sentinel
Not a bad spellshaper, though his cost is high. His best uses are saving your creatures from death or enchantment and restocking your cards with counters (Vanishing cards, Serrated Arrows, Ication Javelineers etc.)

Tolarian Sentinel + Reality Acid = Destroyed permanent for 4 mana and a card. Thatís not at all bad.

Viscerid Deepwalker
Blueís other option for a turn one play. The Deepwalker is good on offence and defence but suffers from a lack of evasion. A good choice but not the best Blue suspend creature by any means - it is outclassed by the Errant Ephemeron and the Riftwing Cloudskate.


In limited formats, creature removal is always good but this card has both good and bad points. On the positive side, Assassinate can kill any creature (unless it has protection from black, for example) and is thus a way for Black to kill other black creatures, which otherwise can cause a problem. Unfortunately, it only works on tapped creatures which means that often, the damage has already been done. Not the best removal spell at common level but worth taking especially if you have limited other options.

COMBO - Assassinate + Rathi Trapper = tap a creature and kill it.

Basal Sliver
Acceleration is good for a sliver deck, as the best slivers cost 4+ mana to put into play. Unfortunately, the common black slivers arenít so great in Time Spiral and this card alone certainly wouldnít make me play slivers. But Basal Sliver is worth considering in other decks as well, as a way of playing the big nasty a turn or two early. Use the black mana to unmorph a Liege of the Pit, for example, or play a Stronghold Overseer on turn 4.

Call to the Netherworld
By itself, this card isnít enough to make me aim for a madness build, but it certainly looks good in such a deck. Turning a discard into a return of a creature into your hand is a very good deal, requiring no extra mana beyond the discard. Having said that, there are so many spellshapers and other discard outlets in Time Spiral block, that itís worth taking these even if you arenít going heavy madness. A nice card with lots of options.

Corpulent Corpse
A strong turn 1 play in a colour that otherwise lacks good first turn options. Definitely worth taking if youíre in Black. The creature may be small but with a strong evasion ability it forces your opponent to find a solution to it. You just donít want to have to pay the full mana for the guy...

Cyclopean Giant
Not a great creature. Reasonable strength, but a poor toughness means he is likely to bite the bullet and turn a land into a swamp. Unfortunately, this rarely has much impact (unless your opponent is already colour screwed).

Dark Withering
This is the card that cries out for a madness deck to be built. To destroy a non-black creature for 1 mana, at instant speed is awesome, especially since you then donít have to waste a card for the discard. The only trouble is that you never want to have to pay the normal cost for this, which is frankly exorbitant (6 mana!). By all means draft them, but donít play them unless you have plenty of discard outlets.

Deathspore Thallid
As removal goes, it doesnít come much slower than a single Deathspore Thallid. In three turns time you will be able to make a creature -1/-1. This isnít exactly a fast kill rate. Still, it is sometimes better than nothing, and in a Black/Green deck, these are absolutely essential, allowing your sprouts and other Thallids to actually kill creatures.

COMBO - Deathspore Thallid + Vhati il-Dal = kill any creature by sacrificing a saproling and making them toughness 1.

Deathspore Thallid + Verdant Embrace = a nasty shotgun effect, that kills creatures an awful lot faster than once in three turns.

Drudge Reavers
Iíve never seen these played. At four mana for a 2/1 creature, even Flash and regenerate canít redeem them. To be good, youíll need to be in a situation to flash them in on turn 5, blocking a creature, killing it, and regenerating the Reavers. By turn 5, the number of creatures that can be killed in this way (with 2 toughness) is unlikely to be high, and certainly they will almost certainly be the least of your problems.

Another removal spell that isnít all that good. Having flash gives this enchantment options as a combat trick, as well as simply killing 1 toughness creatures, but black normally has better options.

Gorgon Recluse
A defensive madness card, once I knew I had some madness outlets, I would certainly aim for some of these gorgons. If you can discard at instant speed, they can be a very nasty surprise for an unwary attacker. Double black is costly, but in general, Time Spiral black demands you concentrate in it heavily.

Mana Skimmer
4 mana for a 2/2 flyer isnít all that impressive these days, and the ability to tap down land is only really useful if your opponent is having mana/colour issues. I wouldnít often main deck these guys but black has limited options when it comes to flyers, so I can see them coming in handy sometimes.

Mindlash Sliver
As a one drop creature, the Mindlash Sliver leaves quite a lot to be desired, since you wonít want to use its ability until later in the game (if you want to use it at all). As a madness enabler, this isnít bad. Otherwise, I would steer clear.

Making your opponent discard 3 cards is less good if they have 4 turns to see it coming and empty their hands. Not worth playing in my opinion.

Pit Keeper
A solid card that would make most black decks. Early game, it can be used aggressively, as a 2/1 for 2. Late game, it can bring an important creature back to your hand, and every bit of card advantage counts. The trouble is knowing when to play it and when to keep it. I normally play it whenever I feel I need the creature, irrespective of the number of creatures in my graveyard but once I get to two or three, the temptation is to wait that little bit longer to see what happens. Difficult decisions but a good card.

Psychotic Episode
If youíre desperate for madness cards take it. Otherwise steer clear. It just doesnít have enough impact to be worthwhile unless your opponent is already struggling to find the right cards.

If every turn you could deal 3 damage and take 2, would you do it? Sounds okay as a deal, but the trouble with Sangrophage is that you almost inevitably end up losing more life than your opponent (they kill it once you have untapped it) or you canít untap it because you need the life. Combined with the double black casting cost, I would leave this at home.

Skulking Knight
Not a bad creature, with 3/3 for 3 and flanking. Unfortunately, your opponent will almost always be able to kill it really easily, simply by targeting it. If this causes them to spend a card (like a charm or an enchantment) then all well and good, but any card that can be killed by a Cloudchaser Kestrel simply by paying white, is a card you should be wary of. He certainly can be used, and some decks will have problems getting rid of him but he is not to be relied on.

Strangling Soot
Now this is a worthy first pick. Most creatures will have toughness 3 or less, and Strangling Soot works at instant speed. With Deathspore Thallid or Feebleness, you can put even bigger creatures in range. All this alone would make it worth taking but then it has flashback too! Worth splashing red into a B/x deck, simply so you can flashback the soot. Great card.

Tendrils of Corruption
This is the card that really pushes you into mono-black, and if you can pull of such a deck, this is absolutely awesome, able to kill even very large creatures, while simultaneously gaining you stupid amounts of life. If you are in a two or three colour deck, however, this starts to look less and less tempting. If you think you can go mainly black then take these as high priority. Otherwise there are often better removal options.

Traitorís Clutch
The casting cost of this is so high and the flashback cost is so low, it soon becomes obvious that this is really a madness card. Discard it to a spellshaper, and flash it back later. Making a creature black is rarely useful, but suddenly having Shadow could swing games. Still, the difficulty is that without discarding this card, itís power is very limited and I would not normally draft it until very late in the pack. However, if you are up against a strong white deck, it might be worth considering this higher, since white cards often want their creatures to be white, making them suddenly black could screw up their plans just as an Ivory Giant hits the field. Potentially good, but probably best left in your sideboard unless you are going mad with madness.

Trespasser il-Vec
The best Madness outlet in common, since it does not cost anything to give him shadow, you can simply discard a card whenever you feel like it. He can also be a powerful aggressive creature, hard to block, able to swing for 3 damage a turn. Definitely worth taking.

Urborg Syphon Mage
The home of the black spellshaper is really multiplayer games, where his ability can really shine. Even in limited however, being able to simply drain the life out of your opponent, 2 life at a time, can win you close games. Worth taking for the madness outlet and reasonable stats on a black creature.

Viscid Lemures
Awesome flavour text but not really worth using main-deck. 5 mana is a lot for a creature that only has evasion when your opponent is playing black.

∆therflame Wall
Red decks normally play quite aggressively, which makes this wall somewhat redundant. In a sideboard it gives you options against a heavy Shadow deck but otherwise I would not play it in general.

Ancient Grudge
There simply arenít enough artifacts to make this a good main deck card, though as a side board against Weatherseed Totem or Clockwork Hydra, this card has its uses.

Blazing Blade Askari
A nice aggressive creature, sitting in the important 3 mana slot. Becoming colourless is sometimes useful if you run into a Teferiís Moat or lots of Pentarch Wards, but in general this knight might as well not have an ability and I would still play it. Not a high priority pick but a solid, reliable aggressive creature.

Bogardan Rager
Too expensive for not enough benefit and not great stats, I have to say that I have never seen anyone play it. I can imagine that it has the potential to win games, but isnít reliable enough to be worth including in most decks.

Bonesplitter Sliver
A great sliver, which is crying out to be paired with a Watcher Sliver in a Red/White build. Not as good as a toughness boost, if you get enough slivers on the table, this will still work wonders.

Coal Stoker
I love the coal stoker. Four mana for a 3/3 creature is great in Red, and the fact that you can then use three of that mana again? Great stuff but this is a card that can easily mana burn you unless you are careful to have an outlet for red mana (like fire-breathing abilities). Great with storm cards, or Orcish Cannonade, which just happens to cost 3 mana.

Empty the Warrens
Red/Blue suspend/storm decks were probably the most powerful build of triple Time Spiral drafts. Now that a pack has been removed, it means one less pack of Empty the Warrens, which in general weakens the strategy. Still, if you have the suspend cards, these are easy picks for any red deck.

Flamecore Elemental
Nothing exciting here. 4 mana for a 5/4 vanilla creature would be awesome, but tying that same 4 mana for 2 turns renders this creature more annoying than useful in most games.

Flowstone Channeler
The red spellshaper has limited uses and is mostly used for killing 1 toughness creatures. I say that thatís what Prodigal Pyromancers are for and I generally donít play this guy.

Ghitu Firebreathing
Its ability to return to your hand can make up for the inherent card disadvantage that creature auras can have. Together with flash, it certainly looks interesting, but in general it doesnít have enough power to be worth playing.

Goblin Skycutter
A reasonable 2-drop. Early game he can do some damage, before biting the bullet and killing a small flyer. With many small flyers in the format (Spiketail Drakeling, Cloudchaser Kestrel) this is certainly worth considering but the Skycutter certainly isnít the best creature available.

A very nice, flexible card, that works very well with suspend for the potential to kill big creatures. If you can get them, take them, especially since they get significantly better the more you have.

On the other hand, this storm card is hardly ever worth using. It can make a few creatures unable to block but this is hardly even worth the effort of building up a spell count.

Ironclaw Buzzardiers
Only being good on the offence makes these guys inflexible, but in certain build they are very nice. They also work as a nice outlet for Coal Stoker mana if you have nothing else to spend it on.

Keldon Halberdier
A good use of turn one red mana. The halberdiers are great on offence or defence but can be killed very easily by Prodigal Sorcerers and the like. Worth taking for building up a storm count but unreliable.

Lightning Axe
The cream of the Red commons, dealing 5 damage to a creature for a single red is awesome power, and will take out most creatures in the format. It works as a discard outlet for madness cards, especially Fiery Temper and Reckless Wurm. A high priority pick and would definitely make me consider playing red.

Simian Spirit Guide + Lightning Axe - In a tight pinch, when a big hasty creature suddenly hits the table, a 3 card combo can kill it. Bad card advantage definitely, but if you have the upper hand with regards to tempo it is sometimes worth doing.

Mogg War Marshal
A nice echo creature, that always gives you at least two 1/1s for two mana. You donít have to pay the echo cost if you have something better to do with the mana, and then you still have two 1/1 creatures. A very good choice for a red deck, especially if you have a reason to sacrifice your creatures.

Mogg War Marshal + Greater Gargadon = 3 tokens off the Gargadon for two mana. Better than a fury charm.

Orcish Cannonade
One of these in a deck is really nice. It deals two damage for 3 mana and draws you a card as well. The 3 damage it deals to you is worth it (especially since the creature you kill is likely to do more if you let it live). Unfortunately, while one is good, two or more can be very detrimental to your health (unless you have lots of life gain). Taking the first one is important but after that each extra one looks worse and worse. This means that you are likely to see them later than you would expect to see removal spells and you might be able to pick them up mid-pack.

Terrible limited card, and basically unplayable unless the storm count is very important to you.

Rift Bolt
This is another cracker of a red spell. 3 mana for 3 damage is quite good, but the ability to pay just 1 now for 3 next turn just gives this card the flexibility to make it great. It even boosts a storm count! A very strong pick for red.

Subterranean Shambler
I really rate this guy. It doesnít have a hefty red requirement and can be used to sweep the board of little guys, of which there are quite a lot in time spiral. And the best thing is that you can do this twice. If you are playing with your own 1 toughness guys, it can be better not to pay the echo, so that your opponent canít kill your whole army simply by removing one of the parts. Still, this is one of the better Echo creatures.

Two-Headed Sliver
A very good sliver in limited, since early on it makes your slivers practically unblockable, and even late game it causes enormous problems. A high priority pick if you are going for slivers.

Viashino Bladescout
The high red requirement makes him a little less playable, though the ability to suddenly give a creature first strike could work as decent removal. Not a terrible spell, but not a great creature.


∆ther Web
A reasonable enchantment that is made playable by having Flash. A creature your opponent thought was unblockable is now suddenly very blockable. In a controlling Green deck, one or two of these can be very useful.

Ashcoat Bear
Not exactly a bad creature, but just not terribly good either. Flash on such a card just isnít especially useful and at two mana you would probably rather play either of the two common green slivers instead.

Chameleon Blur
Pretty picture (if only I could work out what it was exactly) but sadly, this almost always useless in limited. It costs too much and all it does is stop you losing the game for a turn.

Durkwood Baloth
As suspend creatures go, he isnít great simply because he lacks any kind of evasion. Not a bad use of turn one mana though, which makes him eminently playable, and a 5/5 body will give people plenty of trouble once he hits the table, requiring potentially lots of chump blocking. An interesting creature but not my favourite.

Gemhide Sliver
Even not in a sliver deck, this is worth considering as a way of smoothing your mana, as it is basically a two mana birds of paradise. If youíre playing slivers, especially three or more colour of slivers, these becomes almost essential.

Glass Asp
Not enough power for the mana cost and too easy to kill.

I really like these guys, as they can really help smooth out any mana issues you are having while thinning your deck of land. Of course, now the Dreamscape Artist can do the same job better but he costs more to use as well. Worth playing but not a high priority pick.

Havenwood Wurm
For 7 mana you expect more than 5 strength, even on a trampling guy. Even with Flash, he isnít worth the mana.

Herd Gnarr
A Thallid deck can do crazy things with a Herd Gnarr, and he is almost always a good pick for a green deck.

Herd Gnarr + Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder = A very powerful Gnarr!

Strictly sideboard material.

Mwonvuli Acid Moss
In my play group, several people swear by this card. It sets your opponent back a turn and accelerates your mana forward. If they are having land/colour issues anyway, this can be the nail in the coffin, but even if they arenít, accelerating your mana can only be a good thing. I would not draft these quite as highly as others I know, but they are still likely to make the final cut of a green deck.

Nantuko Shaman
Definitely worth using and definitely worth the extra mana to suspend it in order to draw a card. Since it comes into play with haste you donít lost much, and the extra card is all important. A very flexible creature and definitely worth playing.

Penumbra Spider
This is a great Green common card. A 2/4 spider blocker is annoying for many decks to deal with, but even if they get rid of it once, they have to get rid of it again. A very nice choice that can hold back attackers for several turns.

Savage Thallid
If only he didnít have two toughness! In a Thallid deck, he is definitely worth it, as the ability to regenerate your fungi can really swing games, while sprout can give you the saprolings as and when you need them. If you donít have many thallids, then leave the Savage one at home, since he just dies too easily for his five mana cost.

Scarwood Treefolk
4 mana for a 3/5 isnít too shabby, but he suffers from losing out on a turn of blocking. I think he is borderline, and might make a deck depending on curve and other creatures but equally could get left sitting in the sideboard.

Search for Tomorrow
A great card in limited, giving you a good use for mana on turn one, and on turn 3 you can suddenly have 4 mana open, with 1 being of your own choice. A powerful accelerant, especially if you then hit your opponent with some Mwonvuli Acid-Moss.

Spinneret Sliver
A two mana 2/2 is always reasonable, and for the slivers this is one of the best bodies available, especially for his reasonable mana cost. It doesnít give your slivers a terribly useful ability but his cost and stats make him a worthy choice for a sliver deck.

Not normally worth playing, but very useful in a Thallid deck, where each saproling can be used to boost creatures, kill others or regenerate your own. Outside of a heavy thallid deck, I would avoid playing sprouts.

Strength in Numbers
This is a green card that wins games, especially if you have thallids pumping out saprolings. Note that the card can also be used defensively, counting the number of your opponentsí attacking creatures and boosting a blocker accordingly. A strong pick for green.

Thallid Germinator
A reasonable thallid, at 3 mana for a 2/2 creature, and the ability to boost any creature by sacrificing a saproling. Worth taking if you need creatures, or have already picked the Sporesower Thallid (who is the king of thallids) but not a high priority pick.

Thallid Shell-Dweller
Another thallid that doesnít look so great by itself. At least it can do something while it produces saprolings however, and 5 toughness makes it a reasonable wall, although it cannot stop creatures with any sort of evasion.

Thrill of the Hunt
A vital card in a green white deck, but not enough to make me choose those two colours. You can save your own creatures from creature kill and it makes a decent combat trick (unless youíre flashing it back in which case your opponent ought to have known you could have done so). I like the card but I wouldnít draft it unless I knew I was playing both green and white.

Wormwood Dryad
Like so many other creatures, this one really suffers from the 1 toughness. The fact that its landwalk abilities hurt you can also be a pain, but against the right opponents, in an aggressive deck, the Wormwood Dryad is very nasty. Worth taking even if you are in mono-green but is unlikely to last long in play.

Wormwood Dryad + Yavimaya Dryad = give your opponent a forest and make your guys unblockable.
Wormwood Dryad + Cyclopean Giant = kill the giant and give them a swamp.


Brass Gnat
The card I most often receive as a last pick (apart from Moonlace and Norin the Wary). He is simply not worth playing.

Chromatic Star
Can really smooth early mana issues and gives you another card in return. Worth taking once you have some meat to your deck, the star will make any deck work better unless it is mono-colour.

Jhoiraís Timebug
This little artifact creature is very interesting, with much combo potential. In your own deck, it is very playable with Reality Acid or if you are using lots of suspend guys. With Vanishing creatures it is also useful but less so, since you constantly will have to use the Timebug to keep the creature alive, whereas suspended guys will be in play. Against an opponent with vanishing creatures, this is just plain nasty and can shut down a whole part of their plan. Even if they just use suspend, you can delay the spell going off for one or two crucial turns. A really interesting card with lots of potential. Just donít try to use it on a Calciderm.

Prismatic Lens
Another great mana fixer, this can almost always find a place in a deck, but I find it isnít worth taking until the middle of a pack when the better stuff for your colours has run dry.

Terramorphic Expanse
Another card that is easy to fit into all but mono-colour decks. It slows down your tempo but the benefit of getting exactly the land you need is worth it.

Venserís Sliver
If you are desperate for slivers, this can go into any deck and has a reasonable body. For 5 mana however, slivers can normally do better and I would not normally expect to play this guy.

So, with the analysis over, what are the top five common cards in Time Spiral? Which are the cards that I would take first? These are my personal choices, feel free to disagree. In reverse order:

5 Castle Raptors
A great creature to hit the table turn 5, giving you a solid blocker that can take on flyers, or an evasive attacker once the game is stabilised. If he is untapped, he is awfully hard to kill. A very good choice.

4 Strangling Soot
Killing two creatures with a single card is just amazing power, and a very solid pick. Flashing it back is a little difficult sometimes (needing 6 mana) which is why it didnít place higher, but I still really love this card.

3 Looter il-Kor
A great creature for Blue, allowing you to filter your deck turn after turn while dealing damage. Unfortunately, its toughness of 1 makes it rather vulnerable but this is still a great card that really makes a deck hum.

2 Lightning Axe
Amazing power for a common card, able to blow up most creatures in the format at a cost of 6 mana, or 1 red and a card. A really good card that only gets better with madness. Part of its greatness is that it can kill the top common creature of Time Spiral...

1 Errant Ephemeron
But the king of commons is the Ephemeron, who can be suspended turn 2 and will give your opponent huge problems once it hits the table. A 4/4 flyer is very hard to deal with and will put your opponent on the defensive, forcing him to find a solution. And if you can pull off several of these guys it can really be game over. This is the defining card for Time Spiral, against which all removal needs to be judged. If it can kill an Ephemeron, its value is much higher than if it cannot. Take them whenever you can, and donít pass on them easily.

I hope you have enjoyed this walk through the common cards of Time Spiral. Perhaps it has even given you some ideas for the next time you sit down to draft.
All comments are welcome,
The Best Commons of Planar Chaos
What follows is an analysis of the best commons for each colour in Planar Chaos. With the current TTP format, by the time you open Planar Chaos, you will probably have your colours fixed and your rough plan in mind. As such I will mention for each card what colours/strategy you should be in to take that card. I will also mention if cards are worth splashing another colour for. So, without further ado:

Aven Riftwatcher
One of the better Vanishing creatures in the set, this guy will gain you at least 4 life, and can be used as an effective blocker, able to stop 2/2 flyers with ease. His best use however, is in a W/U flyer/control deck, where Momentary Blink, Tolarian Sentinel and Dream Stalker can do their thing, gaining an awful lot more life and keeping the Riftwatcher in play for a very long time. This can be quite frustrating for your opponent. Pick up the Momentary Blinks early, and this will pay huge dividends.

Dawn Charm
In close games, which come down to a race, the first ability on this charm will spell doom for your opponent and I have seen more than one person cursing the Dawn Charm as they walk away from a close defeat. It is versatile and hugely useful in most White decks.

Whitemane Lion
The best White common in Planar Chaos, and stiff competition for best common in the set. Definitely worth putting into any White deck, and even worth considering moving into white if you think you can pull some other stuff off as well.

Revered Dead
Performs a useful function in White control decks of holding down the ground assaults potentially forever. If you have lots of flyers, these are good for your ground defence.

Awesome, awesome card, especially if you are not in Red or Black and thus have few ways to directly kill something. A very high pick if youíre in W/U or W/G.

Dreamscape Artist
Up to two of these will make your deck hum along nicely, acting as land-filter and possibly acceleration. If you arenít in Green, these are an even higher priority. Great cards.

Erratic Mutation
Blue removal is good, and thus this is a strong pick for mono-blue or U/G decks, but this is, unfortunately, rather unreliable.

Reality Acid
Tolarian Sentinels and Dream Stalkers can make this card absolutely awesome. If you pick up those creatures in Time Spiral, then Planar Chaos will reward you, as Reality Acid is often a low priority pick. If you didnít, avoid taking Reality Acid.

Shaper Parasite
Probably the best common Morph creature. Very high Priority pick for Blue players.

For B/W decks, this is a real bomb. What more needs to be said?

Deadly Grub
With Clockspinning, Jhoiraís Timebug or the like, this card looks really nasty, and gives Black decks a powerful attacking creature.

Riged Kusite
The threat of First Strike will often make your opponent not block your creatures, which means you wonít have to discard the card at all. A useful spellshaper, and a high pick for a Madness deck.

An amazing card, giving Red the resources it needs to clear defenders out the way before slamming in with lots of critters. A high priority pick for any Red deck, and worth considering a splash of Red for.

Another card that makes it worth considering splashing Red. This split card can simply deal with almost any creature your opponent cares to throw at you, either permanently or temporarily. A very good pick.

Brute Force
In Limited play, a Red Giant Growth is very useful, whether itís for pushing through the last points of damage or allowing your creatures to survive direct damage, this is a great card. Take these, especially in aggressive Red decks.

Prodigal Pyromancer
Another candidate for best common in the set, Tom is an answer for so many creatures and situations that it is definitely worth considering a splash of Red so you can use him. Tom and the other cards Iíve mentioned are the reason why Red is possibly the best colour in TTP.

Mire Boa
A great aggressive Green card, very strong in Limited play.

Uktabi Drake
A bit more like a miniature burn spell than a proper creature, this gives you some good options. Swing for early damage on turn 1, or play it later to try to keep the creature in play? Another very aggressive Green card, this requires quite an investment in Green mana and isnít easy to splash, but has definitely has its uses both early and late game.

Essence Warden
Part of a Thallid/Herd Gnarr deck, this creature has a very useful part to play. Outside of that kind of deck however, probably not worth picking.
Last edited by Anvar on Mon Mar 19, 2007 1:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
Felipe Musco
Posted: Wed Mar 07, 2007 3:56 pm
Joined: 18 May 2006 Posts: 2434 Location: Florianůpolis, SC, Brasil
I donít know what to say, but even if this would make the article awfully lengthy, you shouldíve talked about both Time Spiral AND Planar Chaos. You see, this is to help drafters, and draft right now IS about both sets working in conjunction, so I think the idea is really cool (but seriously, SOME commons you could just leave out), but I also think you started it "late"... If I were you, instead of gowing through the whole trouble of writing one fully on Planar Chaos, Iíd just edit this one leaving only the commons you think are REALLY worth looking at, and addin IN Planar Chaos, so you can use it as a base for a Time Spiral/Planar Chaos/Future sight, in the end of next month.

Also, I was thinking, isnít this awfully similar (although more elaborate) to your previous article?
I don't like YOU.
Posted: Mon Mar 19, 2007 1:54 pm
Joined: 28 Jun 2006 Posts: 251 Location:
This article has now been updated, with an appendix that deals with some of the best common cards of Planar Chaos in a TTP drafting format.

This article is similar to my last in that they both dealt with Drafting from a beginnerís perspective. Since that is my main perspective on Magic at the moment, it has been my source of inspiration for these articles. Also, the last article seemed too wishy-washy without enough actual use for drafters. I sought to remedy that with this article.

Yes, it is rather lengthy, and for that I apologise, but when I started drafting I had no idea what made a good card and I wanted a detailed look at all the commons, like I provide here, not only to see the good cards, but also the bad cards with an analysis of why they are bad. Time Spiral is much more complicated for this than other sets, since there are so many playable cards for Limited. With so many real options, it becomes important to know which cards are just okay and which are outstandingly good. I hope that this article could help people in a similar situation to me.

As before, all comments are welcome.

The First
Posted: Sat Mar 31, 2007 7:33 pm
Joined: 07 Oct 2005 Posts: 195 Location: Anderlecht, Belgium
I hate lists. There is one thing that I hate more though; really, really long lists.

It seems cool that you are putting so many effort into this article but everything is becoming a blur. You could at least make an index like FM does at the start of your article. Then, we could look up a card to see what you think about it. You are not that judgemental about the cards either. I would have put a star reference like

***** = first pick
**** = decent pick
*** = nice filler
** = playable but rather not
* = garbage

Probably giving them another color so that 5 stars will attract the attention. A bit like the Inquest did with the M:TG card list section for Stadard play.
Great minds bleed alike.
Do not copy media. Support creativity.
Felipe Musco
Posted: Sat Mar 31, 2007 11:22 pm
Joined: 18 May 2006 Posts: 2434 Location: Florianůpolis, SC, Brasil
Really cool pointers, The First. Individual gradings (or, letís say, at least a color scheme to depict best, worst, above-average and below-average cards) would make it REALLY great. Try it for FS! Wink
I don't like YOU.
Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2007 8:25 am
Joined: 12 Jul 2005 Posts: 1202 Location: Austin, TX, USA
Congratulations to Anvar on taking fourth place (and $10 store credit) in Marchís Magic: The Gathering Strategy Article Contest! Cool

I agree with Felipe and The First -- organization is important for a "list" sort of article. Another method to consider would be to order cards roughly from best to worst (or perhaps the other way around). Without adding much work to the preparation of your article, this would offer the reader clearer insight as to which cards to pick first, second, and so on, and might also be useful for determining which colors have the most to offer in general.
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