Building Decks With Time Spiral

Put your Champs deck to the test at the Star City $1500 Standard Open!

Stuart Wright, England’s premier deckbuilder, shares his thoughts on the cards from Time Spiral. He gives us a rundown of all the cards he believes will impact on the Constructed metagame, and offers an amazing twelve new decklists for us to tweak and test! The StarCityGames.com $1,500 Standard Open is this Saturday, and Champs are just around the corner… be prepared!

This article will focus on the new cards for constructed play, mainly looking at Standard and Extended -Block isn’t really relevant until we see more of it. I’m going to try and only focus on the cards that I think will see play, so if I don’t include something I probably don’t think the it is good enough. In Block Constructed, a lot more cards could see play… but I would wait to see the next set before thinking too much about that.

Rather than give the cards rather arbitrary values out of ten, I’m going to look at the decks in which these cards are likely to be seen. Then I will provide a very basic decklist to showcase the idea. These decks are a fine starting point. For the cards that go into existing decks, I’ll largely leave it to you to find the space.

Of course, these are just my thoughts on the matter. Feel free to disagree; I’m sure some of you will. I’ll be covering the Purple cards in their own group later in the article… for now, let’s look at the “new” cards.

Time Spiral cards


Amrou Scout
This guy seems like a pretty powerful two-drop in an aggressive White deck. The chain doesn’t really go anywhere now so you can’t really play control, but a two-power guy is fine at attacking, and it can generate a stream of threats later on. You could easily put four of these in R/W aggro with just a few one-of rebels to search up. Something like one Outrider En-Kor and one Zealot Il-Vec… you probably want to play Knight of the Holy Nimbus anyway.

Cloudchaser Kestrel
This is a better version of Cloudchaser Eagle, and you could just about play it main if there are enough enchantments in the format. It’s certainly as a good sideboard card.

This is good in a very narrow situation: when you know your opponent only has large creatures so you can use it as a White Control Magic. You can’t really afford to run it main, but if you can afford the cost this is a powerful sideboard card versus dragons and angels. In control decks there is potential for dominating slow non-Blue decks by casting this with buyback.

Griffin Guide
Elephant Guide saw play in the past and this card compares pretty well — it offers slightly less damage, but they enchanted guy is much harder to block. It is certainly nice to be able to upgrade your one non-flying white guy so they can’t block anything.

Knight of the Holy Nimbus
This guy is a hard-to-remove threat. Spending three to kill him with a Seal of Fire is not very efficient. He also survives your own spells, like Pyroclasm, and he is rebel.

If nothing else, this deck utterly annihilates any sort of mono-Red aggro strategy.

Magus of the Disk
This guy seems a bit overrated to me. Nevinyrral’s Disk was good because it gave colors like Blue a Wrath effect, but White already has similar effects. Being on a creature make it far more risky. However, what you can do is use him with Loxodon Hierarch, which is rather powerful.

Outrider En-Kor
This guy could reform some sort of life deck in Extended, and he’s a rebel so you can search up an army of creatures that are hard to kill in Standard. He’s good with Knight of the Holy Nimbus too.

Return to Dust

In the right metagame, this card is very powerful Rack and Ruin plus Peace and Quiet. It’s probably worth an extra mana when there are good targets.

Serra Avenger
This guy seems very good when you already have loads of other cheap creatures. If, by turn 4, you still only have two lands, you get to start making larger creatures anyway. You do have to be careful that you have enough creatures that you can play on turns 2 and 3, so you probably only want to play three of these guys.

Tivadar of Thorn

This guy is worse than Paladin En-Vec, unless there are plenty of goblins to kill. I doubt you want more than four Paladins.


Ancestral Vision
This card seems playable but overrated to me. I don’t really like Tidings much, and while this seems a reasonable replacement it is also pretty slow. I certainly would play Compulsive Research first.

This seems like a reasonable start for updating Vore. You don’t really need Demolish to kill artifacts now, and decks that dodge the Cryoclasm weren’t hindered by Demolish anyway. Remand might be better than Mana Leak, if lots of people play suspend stuff. Volcanic Hammer could be maindecked if you expect lots of Ohran Vipers.

A Pretty basic countermagic option, which directly replaces Hinder in decks that want it. It is slightly worse, but not in a very relevant way. It seems possible that some sort of draw-go style deck is possible now – we have enough good countermagic.

This deck might be better off with another color – probably Black for Last Gasp – but it has plenty of good one-for-one counters, and card draw to take the upper hand.

Careful Consideration
This card is slightly worse than Compulsive Research, but it might well be better than Ancestral Vision. It will probably see play in decks that currently run Tidings. It also grants you another discard mechanism for decks like Solar Flare, or others that want to run Zombify.

Drifter Il-Dal
This guy seems like he has potential for use in an aggro Blue deck. There are just enough cards from the past that make a fish-style deck seem reasonable. You don’t really want to cast him on turn 1 – waiting until turns 3 or 4 make him seem far more useful. This sort of deck probably requires a controlling metagame, and I’m not really sure how to build a good deck of this type given the current tools.

Looter il-Kor
You can now play eight Looters in your deck. I guess this might help a Reanimator strategy, but the one extra damage doesn’t help you that much, and he can’t chump attackers.

Riftwing Cloudskate
This guy is almost good enough, and in a deck that wants an overload bounce spells this might be fine. I will cover a deck like that later.

Given that Unsummon isn’t in Standard, the card you need to compare this to is Boomerang. In a mostly Blue deck, Boomerang seems stronger, as the pitch cost isn’t that useful. In decks that can’t get UU all the time, this card seems fine. Creatures only, but that’s more than enough.

Spell Burst
Without the buyback, this card is pretty bad. However, a buyback counterspell is a very powerful effect. You need to be able to generate a lot of mana, and that is exactly what Tron does. You don’t want too many of these, as it is pretty poor early-game, but later on you can get a soft lock with a full Tron.

Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
This guy’s effect is very powerful, and a 3/4 body is big enough to ambush 3/3s or take a Volcanic Hammer. Casing him end of turn then always being able to untap before they can cast removal is nice, and it gets to wreak suspend spells. The existence of this card makes it much more risky to tap out for card drawing, as it shuts down countermagic. The biggest problem is that he isn’t really a proper finisher; he only attacks for three, and he can’t hold off creatures like Rumbling Slum. This was something that both Keiga and Meloku could handle admirably. He isn’t really the sort of card you build around, unless you want to put creatures in to play at instant speed, but he does have a powerful effect when he is down.

Two mana for a Stifle still seems fine, and Split Second means that if you counter the Storm from a Mind’s Desire they can’t stop you. This is a fine sideboard card, but I think that Stifle is still better in Extended. You need truly worthwhile targets if you have to pay twice as much mana.

Walk the Aeons

This card seems seriously overrated to me, it takes an awful lot of work to set up a combo where you take infinite turns – Azusa, Lost but Seeking and Crucible of Worlds, plus this and UUU3. Without the plan of casting it over and over, it costs far too much to use in a normal deck.

Wipe Away
Split second is nice, but I think Boomerang is just better, and you don’t need eight unless you have a very strange deck.


Curse of the Cabal
This card is roughly an indestructible enchantment that forces your opponent to sacrifice a permanent once every two turns. This seems okay if the game is going very long, and it is a sideboard card at best. I don’t really think that hard-casting it is an option, and for it to be best you need to be able to back it up with counters, otherwise the decks it is good against will trump your expensive threat.

Dread Return
This is pretty much just another Zombify. The flashback is slightly relevant, and it gives an incentive for the creature you reanimate to be Verdant Force.

This deck is probably missing something, but you will make able to make a big threat on turn 4 most games, with the ability to do it again if it is dealt with. This might be a little slow – maybe it needs Green for Birds of Paradise or the like.

Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder
This guy is an expensive 2/2, so that will probably limit his usefulness, but he is a possible replacement for Promise of Bunrei in the B/W Husk deck. He will create a lot of tokens very fast… maybe there is some sort of combo he could power.

Faceless Devourer
This guy is a pretty good sideboard card if your opponent has a lot of shadow creatures. However, there aren’t that many shadow creatures out there so it probably isn’t very useful.

Liege of the Pit
This creature kills people very quickly. There is very little reason to play it face up, so you get to attack for seven before you have to sacrifice anything. It is a little like a really aggressive Exalted Angel, so if you can afford the BBBB – and have a few spare creatures like Birds of Paradise – this card will kill some decks all by itself. A lot of these G/B decks can generate a lot of card advantage, but then they fail to win quickly because they only have two-power creatures and too many elves. This card lets you finish up, and gives you something to do with excess elves.


This card is slow, but you only want it against slow control decks anyway. The metagame needs to be pretty heavily control for this to be run maindeck, but it is possible, and having this card down will force your opponent to act before they want to. The hard-cost also isn’t that terrible, if they can’t counter it.

Nether Traitor
This card currently doesn’t seem to have a deck to go in, but the effect is quite powerful. It gives you a free creature to sacrifice to effects, and with two it is possible that some sort of combo loop could be formed. It isn’t terrible at attacking, if you pump it up with something like Bad Moon.

Nightshade Assassin
This seems like one of the best of the Black madness cards, none of which greatly excite me. You could build a deck similar to the Reanimator deck with some of these madness cards, if you could find space.

Premature Burial
This card seems passable as removal, but not quite good enough for Constructed. It’s not the best topdeck.

Psychotic Episode
This card isn’t terrible to hardcast, it doesn’t let them madness or flashback, and still does something when they have no hand. The madness makes it playable, and it seems fine forcing reanimation spells through.

This card is symmetrical, but it is easy to break this – any madness card, having no creatures, Flagstones of Trokair etc. The problem is you want really to do two of those things otherwise it doesn’t really fit in control, as you don’t want to sacrifice lands and discard cards late game. In a more aggro deck you give up card advantage to put them miles behind by making fast creatures and only losing elves. Both these plans seem okay, but I wouldn’t build my deck around it unless I could really abuse this effect.

Stronghold Overseer
This guy can’t block the turn he comes down, which is annoying, but from then on he can shut down an army of three-power creatures. This seems it might be useful in a Black control deck.

Sudden Death

This card kills a lot of things dead, such as Ghost Council of Orzhova, and the question is can you afford one mana over Last Gasp. This pretty much depends on what you expect people to play. Last Gasp is a lot better at killing creatures like Kird Ape, but Sudden Spoiling kills more creatures that can be tough to remove. You might well just play both in your Black control deck anyway, but I would put in Last Gasp first.

Tendrils of Corruption
This card certainly helps some sort of mono (or close to mono) Black deck. You are certainly will give up the ability to kill people to get a far cheaper removal spell over Corrupt. With the dual lands and other basic fixers you can easily splash another color while keeping enough swamps.


Ancient Grudge
This card has been a long time coming – the counterpart to Ray of Revelation. This card is a very powerful sideboard card against Affinity in Extended, with the R/G Aggro Loam deck liking it as well as any deck that mills itself for the flashback. I don’t really see much of a need for it in Standard currently, but it is nice to have.

Bogardan Hellkite
Although this creature costs a lot, you get a lot of power for your mana. I could certainly see this guy slipping into a Tron deck, or any deck with an effect that lets you play creatures for free (such as Hypergenesis).

Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician
You need to be mono-Red, but this guy does let you go all in pretty well. Extended Goblins might want one of this guy to help with quick Goblin Piledriver kills, or as part of the combo win with Skirk Prospector and Goblin Sharpshooter. In Standard this get can still easily give you seven or nine power for only four mana.

Jaya Ballard, Task Mage
It seems fine, but overrated again. Its abilities use up your mana, and it is easily killed. It might be better as a sideboard card against decks that can’t kill it, but I don’t really think aggro Red wants this sort of slow creature.

Lightning Axe
This lets you madness spells out, but only if they play creatures, so you can’t really rely on being able to use it. Plus the madness cards aren’t that powerful this time around.

Magus of the Scroll
Not quite as good as Cursed Scroll, as it is much easier to kill, but it is a better turn 1 play as it can attack for one. It might go in the R/B aggro deck people played before, but he is nowhere as good as a Grim Lavamancer.


You can get infinite mana from this and Early Harvest. You need nine mana to start with, and at least seven lands in play. Then you can cast Demonfire.

Rift Bolt
Both modes of this spell seem fine. On the draw you can suspend this and kill a Kird Ape, and if you can’t wait you can just pay three. There is, however, a lot of competition over burn spells now, and this might not be quite good enough outside of the all-burn deck.

Sudden Shock

This card is probably better in Extended where it kills Arcbound Ravager, Wild Mongrel, and Psychatog, while in Standard there are fewer creatures where the “sudden” effect is useful. This is not to say that it is useless – you can use it to kill things like Ghost Council of Orzhova (along with another burn spell, and depending on what they do in response to the first).

Sulfurous Blast
A bit expensive, but being able to pick two or three damage is pretty helpful as you can sweep everything away or leave your 3/3s in play. The damage to players makes this worse in control, but I already filled the aggro deck with protection from Red creatures, where three extra damage is nice.

Thick-skinned Goblin
Protection from Red seems like a pretty useful ability. Red normally gets quite weak two-drops, so this guy seems well above average. I don’t really see many echo creatures worth playing, and even then he probably gets killed so that ability is pretty useless, but it is pretty much free anyway.

Volcanic Awakening
Although this is expensive, if you play enough spells before it that make mana – such as Seething Song – you can really wreak a control deck that can’t really counter that many copies. It seems like it might see some play, and I will put it in the Dragonstorm deck when I came to that card.

Wheel of Fate
There are two things you can do with this card – either play loads of burn spells and use this to refill (but then this is useless later on as you want the game to finish quickly, plus creatures are often the most efficient way to deal damage), or play an Owling Mine style deck with this and Howling Mine. I’m not sure how well this type of deck would work, but any bounce effects become a lot more powerful when stuff doesn’t come back.

This deck could do with a better way of winning, but the basic idea seems okay.



Any combo you want to do with this is rather hurt by the three turn delay. I don’t really see anything powerful enough that you can afford to wait that long.

Krosan Grip
I don’t think that one extra mana is worth split second here – costing an extra 50% is too much for an effect that doesn’t really do that much. Costing two means you can slip it under counters anyway.

Magus of the Candelabra

For this guy to help, you need lots of lands that tap for excess mana, but if you have a full Tron why do you need even more?

Mwonvuli Acid-Moss
This card is pretty good in control-on-control matchups, as gives you one land extra, which can be a Stomping Ground or similar, and it sets them back in development. Obvious stuff, but relevant.

Search for Tomorrow

This card is better than Rampant Growth on every turn other than 2. On turn 3 it still leaves you with one mana open (and you get to pick the color), plus you can suspend it on later turns if mana is still tight.

Spectral Force
This guy hits for a lot, and untaps even if they only control a Phyrexian Arena. It can act as a huge wall against aggressive decks, and with a little help can kill people in three turns. It might be a bit expensive for aggressive deck, but a more midrange deck gets a very large creature.

Sporesower Thallid

This creature is only really playable in a thallid deck. A 4/4 for four isn’t quite good enough on its own. However, the other thallid lord is very powerful, so this sort of deck might well be viable.

Thallid Shell-Dweller
This seems just about playable it provides a defence against early rush, and still creates threats against control. It is rather slow, and later on it is even less useful.

Thelon of Havenwood

This creature’s ability is insanely powerful. However, his tribe is pretty weak. This mean he has to be in play for this deck to be good. Luckily, there are plenty of cards that let you do this.

While Thelon of Havenwood is pretty powerful, it seems you have to play too many bad cards for this deck to work.

Thelonite Hermit
This guy compares reasonably well to Deranged Hermit. He’s a bit slower on attacking, if you pay three then five, but he costs less overall… and nine power worth of creatures is a decent threat on its own. The ability to ambush people is pretty low, as they should be able figure out what your morph, is but if you have playing lots of colors you might manage it. The ability to play it out before you draw five mana as a 2/2 doesn’t hurt either.

Yavimaya Dryad

Most decks that played Wood Elves could get GG pretty easily, so you get to upgrade to this creature. It doesn’t seem likely you will want to give your opponent a Forest very often, but it could be relevant in some sort of mono Green aggro deck with other forestwalkers.


Saffi Eriksdotter
This gives you a good two-drop in most G/W decks. While not as aggressive as Watchwolf, it does let you recover from Wrath of God a lot faster. It can also protect a creature you really need to play in your combo deck. It is a legend, so you only want two or three in your deck, and if you only have more 2/2s its ability doesn’t really help much.

Stonebrow, Krosan Hero
If your R/G aggro deck wants to go up to five mana, this is the creature for you. You probably need to play Llanowar Elves, but he is very powerful with Giant Solifuge. The fact that he pumps other creatures the turn you cast him make him playable, if you can afford this much mana.


Chromatic Star
A fixed version of the old Chromatic Sphere, without any of the rules problems. It has the potential to be better, if you sacrifice it to things like Arcbound Ravager, but Leyline of the Void does stop the card draw.

Gauntlet of Power
This is a very expensive limited Mana Flare effect. I don’t really think you can build a deck with this and Early Harvest… however, it is good with Sacred Mesa.

Lotus Bloom
This is similar to Seething Song. It gives more mana, and of any color, but Seething Song can be drawn on turns 2 or later, assuming you plan on using the mana to fuel some sort of early game combo. You can also you this in some sort of Reanimator deck, to hardcast big creatures (or you can discard it when you draw it later).

Weatherseed Totem

All of the totems seem passable, but this feels like the best. A hard-to-stop threat that will keep coming back. If your deck is light on win conditions, and you can use mana in the late game, these seem fine.


Academy Ruins
In Extended you can use this to loop endless Mindslavers, but that requires a lot of mana and another colorless land in your deck. Tooth and Nail decks can search this up, and could run a few Breeding Pools to support it.

Flagstones of Trokair
This land doesn’t really cost you anything to run, and it gives you some protection from Wildfire. If you play a second one, you can search up duals so it fixes your mana for the cost of one “comes in to play tapped” land.

Gemstone Caverns

If your mana is fine then you can safely run one of these. Putting this into play on turn 1 pretty much results in you going first without being able to cast a one-drop. You can’t really rely on the mana fixing side, but if going first is really important you might want to play a few of these.

Terramorphic Expanse
This card isn’t worth it in any two-color deck, as it is worse than Shivan Oasis, but if you are playing lots of color it does fix your mana and provide a basic land. I don’t think it is worth it, even in a three-color deck, when we have so many good lands currently… but if you are all five it seem reasonable.

Urza’s Factory
Any color can now have a pseudo Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree. If you have a two-color deck in this format, you can afford a few colorless lands as we have so many good dual lands, so something like U/W control might love this card. However, those sorts of decks might be better off with Scrying Sheets, as this does cost a lot of mana before you can use it.


I’m going to group all the slivers that I think are playable here together, and give you a deck that they could go into. I’m sure there are other ways to build a sliver deck, but this deck runs most of the better slivers while having a reasonable manabase.

I’m sure this deck could run more of a toolbox plan, but to start with I only want the very best slivers. Green and White seem to have the best in the set, with mana fixing and pump letting you play out threats fast. Blue gives you some protection from Wrath of God, which is pretty bad for a deck full of creatures, and Telekinetic Sliver can potentially lock people. I do like Sedge Sliver, but it didn’t seem worth adding two more colors and Swamps to this deck to support him. I don’t really want a deck full of 1/1s than grant abilities that aren’t that useful, so lots of those cards are out unless you really want a swarm for some reason, e.g. Sidewinder Sliver. I would quite like Bonesplitter Sliver, as often it will be just as good the Might Sliver, but to start with I kept this deck to three colors.

Timeshifted Cards


Akroma, Angel of Wrath

The fan favorite is back, and although expensive it does do the job of killing people very well. Attacking for six, being immune to most removal, and blocking as well is a pretty nice package. You can either cheat it into play with reanimation spells, or just play a long game where you hardcast it. This is now the very best top-end threat, given that it beats Simic Sky Swallower in a fight pretty savagely.

Defiant Vanguard
This card’s ability doesn’t really go anywhere. That sort of ability is very defensive, and it seems like the new style rebel decks want to be aggressive, but I guess it doesn’t cost much for you run one searchable copy.


This is pretty simple, but it’s helpful if you want it your R/W deck sideboard.

Enduring Renewal
In the past, this card has only ever been used in combo, and that is still true today. If you really want there are all kinds of loops you can pull off with this card, e.g. Enduring Renewal and Mindlash Sliver and Basal Sliver gives as much Black mana as you want, with something like Demonfire to finish with. I’m not sure a deck can be built around this, given that so many people play Mortify, but with cards like Castigate to back it up, it may see play.

Icatian Javelineers

This creature isn’t that aggressive, but he does kill off a lot of the other beatdown creatures. So if the metagame is going to have a lot of other attacking decks you want him, maybe even over Savannah Lions. In new metagames people will generally play aggro, so if you’re not sure he is worth a try.

If you wanted to play Solar Flare without Black, now you can replace Zombify with this. I don’t think any deck wants twelve four-mana reanimation spells.

Sacred Mesa
A bit slow, and you need a lot of mana before this is really effective, but it will win you the game and provide chump blockers over time. Very good with the Gauntlet of Power, but I’m not sure if this combo is worth forcing you into mono-White. You could support a small splash, without losing that much mana generation, with Terramorphic Expanse.

Soltari Priest
A good solid creature. Protection from Red means it is hard to kill, but as it can’t block it won’t annoy a Red deck as much as something like Paladin En-Vec.


This is a very powerful sideboard card that you need to be ready for, as rather than facing a long drawn-out war of card advantage, you need to be able to deal with a five-turn clock. If you expect a lot of Blue you can run him maindeck, as he still trades with anything up to a Loxodon Hierarch if he can’t attack.

Flying Men, Lord of Atlantis, Unstable Mutation, Voidmage Prodigy
These cards all go in some sort of aggro Blue, a deck not seen for many years. However, there are quite a lot of them, and this sort of deck can hit for quite a lot, fast.

Psionic Blast
This card is more useful in other aggressive decks. Now the U/W deck might well be able to burn you out, so you need to be more careful how much damage you let through. Giving U/G or U/W the ability to remove threats and burn people out brings them much closer to a Zoo style deck. Control decks can play this, but the loss of life is annoying given you have options like Last Gasp and Condemn.

Whispers of the Muse
The idea with this card is to cycle it early. Then, if you draw it late game, use it to generate slow but steady card advantage. The game needs to go on for a long time for you to be able to afford the six mana without having better things to do, but the ability to replace it with another for only U mean the cost of playing it is pretty low. There are a lot of good card drawing spells now, and decks that want to get on with it and win probably want something that generates card advantage faster.


Bad Moon
People often build Black aggro decks and this is certainly a good reason to try. It makes all of your creatures much bigger threats for a cheap cost. The main problem is that there aren’t that many good attacking creatures out there to fill out this deck. However quite a few of the new Black Timeshifted cards do fill that role.

Dauthi Slayer
Given how few shadow creatures there are, this is pretty much unblockable, so it is just a case of this guy needing a deck. This deck seems okay, but I’m not sure it is better than a normal R/B deck with Giant Solifuges and more burn spells.

Funeral Charm
This card is fine if you expect a lot of x/1 creatures. It kills them cheaply, and against control decks it still has a use. Even swampwalk is sometimes useful, but if there aren’t many x/1s then the other two abilities aren’t worth the slot.

This is a fine Black card advantage spell. The random discard just puts it over the edge and into playable. This is just about enough discard spells that you could build some sort The Rack / Megrim deck, but aggro decks would probably crush you.

Twisted Abomination
This creature is nice in a low-threat control deck, giving you another way of winning plus fixing your mana if you need it. A 5/3 regenerator is a pretty reasonable win condition when you have plenty of lands, and I can certainly see decks like Solar Flare wanting this guy.

Withered Wretch
This creature’s ability is very powerful against a select few decks, but on a 2/2 body you can afford to run him main. Randomly crushing Reanimator and annoying people with Life from the Loam in Standard seems worth a lot in the right deck.


Avalanche Riders
This creature is miles better than Demolish, giving you a blocker for a turn or a small threat when you run out of spells. You could certainly run a land destruction deck with Stone Rain, Demolish, Cryoclasm, and Avalanche Riders, maybe backed up with Birds of Paradise and the like.

If you are going to pay nine mana, it’d better win you the game. Luckily, they printed Bogardan Hellkite – if you get four copies, they will kill people straight away. Therefore what you want to do is play three spells than make mana, and then Dragonstorm kill them outright. Even if they have counterspells, they need to stop the right part of the combo – countering a few storm copies doesn’t help if you can’t deal with 5/5 dragons. Other storm spells give you a backup plan, and Hunted Dragon helps if you draw a Bogardan Hellkite. You can also just hardcast a Bogardan Hellkite and attack…

Orcish Librarian
This card is probably a bit weak by today’s standards. Aggressive decks don’t want two-mana 1/1s, and control decks don’t want fragile creatures. However, someone suggested Orcish Librarian with Counterbalance, which seems to be pretty much the only reasonable way left in Standard to stack your deck in this fashion.

Orgg, Suq’Ata Lancer, Uthden Troll
These three are just on the edge of being playable. I think Red has better creatures, and you don’t need these guys, but in a mono-Red deck, six power for five mana is a pretty good deal. The problem really is that you might as well play a second color and just have better options.


Call of the Herd
This is a very solid playable card. You’ll never build your deck around it, but most decks with Green are very happy to have it. It gives aggro two threats, providing card advantage in a way, and it gives control an efficient win condition versus other control decks. A very good card, but this time maybe not quite so strong because of Repeal and Remand, both of which provide very cheap answers.

Gaea’s Blessing
The old-school decks with very few win conditions don’t really feel viable to me, but this card does have other uses. Stopping other people from reanimating or abusing Life from the Loam might be worth a deck slot, as it cycles at worst.

Hail Storm
While not exactly Pyroclasm, this card can be a pretty big shock from a Green deck. The matchup need to be right, but you can definitely surprise some people with this, making it a useful sideboard card or just something to be aware of.

Spike Feeder
I can certainly see decks that can’t cast Loxodon Hierarch wanting this, and trading with a 2/2 and gaining four life is the right effect against aggro. The ability to move counters is more useful than it looks, and can tip this guy over the edge. I think you want Loxodon Hierarch first, but you might want both after sideboard.

Thornscape Battlemage
Much like Steamcore Weird, this creature can kill a Paladin En-Vec and has a more aggressive body. Killing Signets against control makes him all-round useful, and if you get to kill any larger artifacts you will be pretty happy.

Wall of Roots
The fact you can use the ability straight away means often this card is almost free, giving you one mana the turn it comes down and another one in your opponent’s turn. Plus the ability to block attacking creatures means that you get mana acceleration and defence for a cheap cost.


This is definitely a card that needs a deck built around it. You could run it in a mono-Black deck with Gauntlet of Power so you can cast lots of really big spells and copy them. It suffers from being a bit expensive when you aren’t doing anything really unfair with it, but it is a powerful effect, and decks have been built around it in the past.

Serrated Arrows
You don’t really want to use this to kill 2/2s, as it is pretty slow at that, so it is only good if people have a lot of x/1s in their decks. If they do, this card gives decks without removal the ability to remove annoying utility creatures that are immune to effects like Condemn.

Tormod’s Crypt
This card isn’t really needed in Standard, but it will really shake up Extended. As a zero-mana artifact, Affinity could certainly play four of these with little cost and get to wreak people. It is a lot better to tutor up than Leyline of the Void, and people are already playing that maindeck. In Standard, it probably prevents any sort of Reanimator deck becoming too popular, as this card is really hard to beat.


Fiery Justice
If you can cast it, this card is very powerful. If you are beatdown, five life can easily be offset by attacking after you kill their creatures. In control, the five life is often irrelevant. The only problem is that you need to be these three colors. Luckily there are good mana-fixers that let any two-color deck add a third for this.

Lightning Angel

Another card that, if you can cast it, gives you a powerful effect. It puts a reasonable clock on people, and still defends. It is certainly possible to build a three-color aggro deck, and this card gives you an incentive to do so.

Mystic Enforcer
You need to be able to get threshold, but if you do, this card is very big and threatening. One of the best ways of getting threshold is casting Wildfire, which, as long as you have two or more cards already, won’t kill the Mystic Enforcer.

Mystic Snake
This card is best when backed up with other creatures and tempo. If you can make it so they have to play spells into your open mana, you can virtually finish them with a counter and a free 2/2. Control decks can use this as a hard counter and a threat, but it is a lot easier to play with that much open mana when you aren’t under pressure from other creatures.

Shadowmage Infiltrator

He is just another three-mana card advantage creature like Hypnotic Specter and Ohran Viper. The main problem he has is that even with a Birds of Paradise you might still not be able to play him on turn 2, and I’m not sure that he is superior enough that he is worth the risk. These sorts of decks can’t really handle fast beatdown and removal anyway, and there are a lot of spells that kill a three-toughness creature.

This card is very powerful with Life from the Loam and can be used both as a control card for dealing with beatdown and in beatdown as a finisher that turns every card you draw into burn. This card makes it a lot harder for slow control decks to win, as it puts them on a fast clock if you get it down backed up with other burn spells.


This card really punishes people for having a lot of cards that cost the same. Not as bad for cheaper threats, as it is a bit slow, but can be devastating if you have loads of three- or four-drops. There is definitely potential for Black control to splash this as a late-game card.

Assault / Battery
Both halves are average but fine. Most of the time, sorcery speed doesn’t matter for the burn, and you get a 3/3 when there isn’t anything to kill. Quite a few of the control decks — the ones you don’t want a Shock against – will have Repeal.

This is a powerful effect but it costs a lot of mana — and it’s a land that doesn’t tap for mana itself. It might be fine as a sideboard card in some matchups, but you pretty much give up your whole turn to play and use this. Any removal spell can make it a waste.

This is pretty similar to Quicksand. You take damage here, but it is a lot better in the earlier turns where losing a land is not worth killing a 1/1. If they open with Savannah Lions and you play this, the tempo swing is pretty nice. The main problem is that decks want to play Scrying Sheets… but two-color decks might be better off with this, to beat aggro decks.

Gemstone Mine
This is a nice little card, but you don’t want to run too many in a deck that goes past turn 4. It does have a very good interaction with the Karoo lands like Dimir Aqueduct. Any sort of fast combo deck can run these, getting any color at little price, a price that is very playable if the game will be over soon. It also seems fine to play a few in any deck with a lot of colored mana requirements, such as the very first deck above (which wanted WW and RR).

I’ve presented a number of ideas above, and hopefully something will spur you on for your coming Champs tournaments.

Good luck, and happy building!