Welcome back to another week of financially-minded set reviews. This week, we are finishing our look at Time Spiral, an incredible set for players and collectors. Like I said before, Time Spiral was a set that rewarded long-time players. There were the obvious references, like Magus of the Candelabra, but there also existed more subtle throwbacks, like Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician. We're more interested in money than flavor in this article though, so let's get into the thick of it!
I see this come up now and then in dollar boxes. The margin at that price is never great, but it's good to pick up for Commander trading. Nether Traitor (and man, would Nether Trader be an insane column name... storing that one away) harkens back to Nether Shadow, the first creature that just wouldn't stay dead. Nether Spirit was a big fan favorite, playing well in Black Weenie decks from the beginning of Magic. In Ice Age/Mirage Standard, there existed a deck that utilized Nether Shadow and Ashen Ghoul to take advantage of then-new Buried Alive. The best plan was something like a first-turn Dark Ritual with Buried Alive for three recurring monsters, followed by a pump knight on the second turn. If that knight died, another beastie was quick to follow. The deck ran Bad Moon to amp up its attackers, and the UW control decks at the time had the hardest challenge - their Wrath of Gods never kept the enemy down, and you only had so many Swords to Plowshares. At the time, I thought Buried Alive was a dreadful card (having not yet learned the concept of reanimator) and I was surprised to see how well the "junk" card performed.
Nether Traitor takes even less work than Nether Shadow to come back and the thing has "engine" written all over it. I love it like I love Reassembling Skeleton. When you need something to die for a card like Victimize or Skullclamp, here's Nether Traitor to fall on the spike for you. It requires a certain amount of salesmanship to convince a lot of Commanders of its usefulness, but everyone wants to abuse their graveyard in Commander and this is about as painless as it gets.
The downside of this Angel has never really counted for much. People use it with Aether Vial early on, or they simply pay WW on the fourth turn with a Counterspell in hand. Serra Avenger is a solid B+ Legacy creature and I have died to them a few more times than I want to admit. The card's real potency lies in the combination of Flying and Vigilance. With those two, you can tag a value-adding equipment like a Sword or Jitte on her and have both a bombastic attacker and terrifying blocker. A 3/3 that stays home to block is not terrible to begin with, but the addition of flying makes her even more devastating. The price of this card is also heavily influenced by Angel collectors, who especially prize Angels that are actually good!
Stuffy Doll is a casual card that appeals to the casual nostalgic fan. The continuously punished doll showed up in hits like Black Vise and The Rack; true fans can name the other three cards that it has also popped up on without resorting to the Googles. On top of being a fun throwback, it's the heart of casual combos, utilizing cards like Guilty Conscience or armies of En-Kor to thwart attacking. It's also a popular multiplayer card, because it essentially tells opponents that it's just not worth hitting you; you'll get them (or whoever you picked out) instead. Sometimes it even lets you get around the pesky players who hide behind Propaganda effects. Name that person and then encourage opponents to swing big monsters into your evil little doll!
Trickbind is occasionally useful in Legacy and it's also thrown about as anti-combo protection in Modern. Trickbind will stop a Storm deck and it'll also win the game against a Hive Mind deck if they aren't playing at the top of their game. I think it's useful to have a few copies if you intend to play Modern, but we'll see if it has a real role later on.
My, how the mighty have dipped. Vesuva saw a brilliant and brief spike after the Cloudpost decks picked up in Modern. With Post gone, Vesuva has halved in price. If there is another big mana deck in the format, it'll probably use the Urza lands instead of anything worth cloning. That means that Vesuva is regulated, once again, to cloning Maze of Iths in Modern.
That's it for Time Spiral. You may be curious about the Timeshifted cards; I looked through all of them and none are really more expensive than the originals. We lack enough data to tell established prices on the foil versions of cards that were not previously foiled. That said, cards like Tormod's Crypt are definite foiled hits. Pass on those foil Squires, though...
Join me next week when we take a look at the color-shifted Planar Chaos set, a darling of MaRo but a failure among players who had never seen the original cards. Until then,