Insider: Tallying Time Spiral, Part 1

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Time Spiral is a reward for being a veteran Magic player. It's the badge you earn when you get Achievement Unlocked: Play Magic For A Decade. The set made nearly no sense to people just coming into the game (which is a big part of the Magic market) and so it was not a big fan favorite. Time Spiral, like a Lars Von Trier film, is one for the critics. The set is full of so many really cool throwbacks, from Kher Keep to Amrou Scout being Amrou Kithkin, but sent forward in time (look for the purple headband!).

Time Spiral was also a tremendously powerful set. We saw free spells, flashback terrors, incredible Legends and more. The Timeshifted element brought back a lot of good and beloved cards into Standard (and Modern), and cards like Akroma got another shot at tournament dominance. This week, we'll take a look at the most valuable Time Spiral cards.


This card was bonkers from the moment it was printed. A Volrath's Stronghold for the best permanent type is an incredibly strong land. It saw play in Standard, recurring Triskelavus indefinitely. It popped up in Extended, making infinite Mindslavers from Urzatron decks. It also formed a lynchpin of Legacy by bringing Engineered Explosives back to sweep the board, time after time. Academy Ruins is a beloved Commander card, since it will usually have something to bring back in any deck you can run it in.


This card remains high, despite being printed in Jace vs. Chandra. Visions harkens back to Ancestral Recall, just about the best card in the game. While some people dismissed this card as too slow, Ancestral Visions has played a key role in many control decks; it allows for a refuel at a crucial point in the game, and a control deck can wait five turns to draw some more cards for free.

These went up a little in speculation from Modern, only to see them banned. People still speculated on 9/20, hoping that Wizards would unban them to strengthen control. No luck there, so these only see play in Legacy at the moment.


This has always had a niche from people who want to beat Storm combo decks. People also like to combine it with Ad Nauseam so that they can draw their entire library. The card was big for a hot minute when people realized that you could catch Hive Mind players with it in Legacy and win the game as a result. They would cast Pact of the Titan, you'd Angel's Grace on your upkeep and ignore the Pact, then they'd have to pay for their own Pacts and lose. Hive Mind decks just brought in their Chalice of the Voids and rolled on through it. Angel's Grace didn't really shoot up when it was the answer to Hive Mind, so I don't see it doing much right now. However, it is a very useful card to remember; Wizards likes to print effects that will lose you the game or make you lose lots of life. Angel's Grace is costed correctly to make sure you can pull off a combo.


Flagstones were an immediate hit when they were printed. People revisited Armageddon strategies and pointed Boom//Bust at them. Playing two would Legend-kill them, allowing you to search up some Sacred Foundries or other juicy targets. Flagstones have been a solid roleplayer in a few formats, but they never seemed to me to justify the price they command. They are essentially a Plains that gets a little better if you have to kill it - God's Eye, Gate to the Reikai wasn't a big deal, after all. The cards apparently have fans and we might even see some Modern play out of them.


Gauntlet is a throwback to the old Gauntlet of Might, which was a really cool card, but too expensive for casual players to get the full value from. The tribute card is also a highly playable Commander card; it rewards people with mono-colored decks, and who doesn't have a few guys on the table to pump up at the same time? Gauntlet is seriously in demand; it's a super Gilded Lotus for a lot of decks and you'll see it included in just about all of the "best cards" lists.


The appeal of Big Gargs is twofold. You can sacrifice guys that are already going to die to make it come out faster, and later in the game, you can sacrifice all of your lands and spare permanents to make a 9/7 monster. It sees a little bit of attention in Modern because it's one of the few free sacrifice outlets if you want to make something like Enduring Renewal work.


Grip is the only thing in the game that can do what it does, and that is brutally important. Grip can kill a Sensei's Divining Top. It'll take out a Nevinyrral's Disk or Mindslaver that has been carelessly left out to taunt. It slays Etched Oracle. The list goes on. Grip was printed only one time and it is one of those staple cards that people will need four of for Modern and Legacy. Grips used to trade for around $3, but the demand has tapered a little bit.


Living End is quietly heating up in Modern. It's a sleeper of a combo deck and I'd keep my eye on it. The deck aims to cycle creatures like Architects of Will and the like, only to cascade into Living End and make them all come to life. It ends up being a Wrath of God for them and a big payday for you. As far as combination decks go, this one is challenging to stop unless you pack along some graveyard hate or actual counterspells. It's not out of the question that Modern will really embrace this deck, making Living End a decent speculation opportunity.


Most things with "Lotus" in the title end up being worth a few dollars, just based on cachet. This card gets a little more attention because it can be used in Modern combo decks. Since Modern has been slowed down a lot, decks like Dragonstorm might have a shot. Those kinds of decks love Lotus Bloom, since it comes online as soon as they want to start comboing off. Starting off with two of these suspended is downright diabolical! I don't think it's a stellar card for Modern, but the depth of combo could easily prove me wrong. It's worth noting that these have gone up a few dollars in the last month or so.

Join me next week when we look at the second half of Time Spiral and catch up on Timeshifted allstars!

Until then,

Doug Linn

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