SCG Daily – A Look At Time Spiral Draft

For today’s thousand words, I’m gonna take a tiny peek at triple Time Spiral draft. In particular, an archetype that could prove to be one of the true contenders when the excrement collides with the revolving propeller-style cooling aid…

Yesterday, I talked of the horror of B/R in Time Spiral Sealed.

Today, I’m moving out of those choppy waters. After all, I want to save my Sealed juices for my next Sealed Revealed series… As soon as I lay my hands on some product on Friday, I’m good to go in that regard.

For today’s thousand words, I’m gonna take a tiny peek at triple Time Spiral draft. In particular, an archetype that could prove to be one of the true contenders when the excrement collides with the revolving propeller-style cooling aid…

I’ve not done much Time Spiral draft… yet.

Oh, I plan to. I’ve got a long road ahead of me if I want to be prepared for Kobe. I’m sure I’ll not be the strongest drafter there, or even one of the stronger (why yes, Mr. Becker… I am English), but if I’m travelling halfway around the world to sling spells then I’ve got to make an effort.

In my triple Time Spiral experience thus far, it seems that All Kids Love White. I too succumbed to the pale mage’s wily graces, slamming down a Serra Avenger (the Angel’s very own Mini-Me) and a Tivadar of Thorn as my first picks in my first Time Spiral draft. I did try to avoid the Big Dumb Forest Dwellers, as the color is for losers in this block (or so I’ve been told)… but then I was shipped a lot of wobbly Green monsters, a touch of Red removal, and double Tromp the Domains. Of course, I lost the draft pretty handily (my only win in the three rounds of Swiss being against Craig Jones and his deck of four Sacrophages).

The winner of that particular draft was one Mr. Mike Major, a sometime strong Limited player and veteran of a Pro Tour or two. Sadly, he lost his soul to Everquest some time ago, but he still rolls up with fresh promises and shiny eyes every time a new set breaches the walls.

I’m telling you this because I looked at his deck after the draft, and it was very nice. While I was doing my best with a selection of decent cards, Mike had done the correct thing… he’d drafted a deck.

We know synergy is important. And we know, in Time Spiral, synergy is attainable. Look at the slivers if you doubt my perspicacity. And while everyone goes gaga for the powerful White spells, or fights over the Red and Black removal options, it might bear fruit for you to try something different.


Sure, it’s been done. I believe that, by the end of the Kamigawa Block Draft season, the U/G drafters were heralding their pairing of choice as the true powerhouse of the format. Then, the focus was on spirits. This time? Suspend.

Here’s Mike’s deck, as far as I can recall:

The land mix may be off, but you get the idea.

The above deck looks like an excellent example of its type… perhaps a little too good to convince you of the archetype’s viability. Never fear, there’s a lesser version posted later, drafted by my good self to similar decent results. But first, here’s a few pointers on the strong cards and interactions.

Ideally, you want to:

a) Lead with a suspend monster on turns 1 or 2. Thus, the Errant Ephemeron and Durkwood Baloths are key, and should be picked accordingly (I know that the Ephemeron is an excellent first pick regardless of your strategy, so you might have to fight for these).
b) Follow your early drop with a modicum of controlling defense. I personally love turn 1 suspended Baloth, turn 2 Thallid Shell-Dweller. That leaves you with (hopefully) Cancel mana on turn 3, or the chance to make morphs and other three-drop monsters.
c) Wait for your big guys to come into play, and then smash face.

For this strategy, the Clockspinning is nice but not essential. It should come to you relatively late, so don’t bother grabbing it early, and you shouldn’t need more than one.

Removing a counter from a suspended guy on turn 4 is nice, but the real Clockspinning fun comes later in the game with the Thallid-creation guys. For example, at eight mana, with a Thallid-creator in play and a Clockspinning in hand, you can churn out a Saproling each turn. Not bad if you’re facing down an Evil Eye of Urborg, as I was in a draft earlier this evening.

And of course, for four mana each turn, you can delay their suspend guy forevermore.

I won’t give you a complete pick-order for this strategy, as it’s early days and I’ve only drafted it a couple of times. I will, however, give you an overview of the importance of certain sections of the deck. Sure, that sentence sounds clunky, but you’ll get my meaning when I begin.

1) Big Suspend Guys (Errant Ephemeron, Durkwood Baloth)
2) Cheap/Powerful Thallid Creators (many to choose from, but make sure you get some Thallid Shell-Dweller)
3) Utility guys and Fliers (A Greenseeker is fantastic, as are Looter Il-Kors. 2/2 fliers for three and 3/3 fliers for five are always strong)
4) Clockspinning
5) Card Drawing (Be it in the form of spells like Think Twice and Careful Consideration, or men like Fathom Seer and the abovementioned Looter Il-Kor)
6) Bounce (actually, maybe this should be a little higher… Probably on a par with Clockspinning)
7) Other men, and creature boosters

It remains to be seen just how competitive this draft strategy can be… While Green will likely remain undervalued in the short term, thus helping you pick up Thallids and the like, everyone’s love of the Blue spells may prove difficult for the dedicated U/G Suspend drafter. Errant Ephemeron in particular may be sponged up by many a mage to your left and right.

To finish, here’s my latest U/G list. As you can see, it was nowhere near as powerful as Mike’s list above. It did, however, bring home the metaphorical bacon.

The Mystical Teachings wasn’t special — sure, it fetched one of my three copies of Think Twice or my Crookclaw Transmuter, but I lacked real instant-speed bang for my buck here. Still, the ol’ “early suspend guy backed with defence and Clockspinning tricks” worked wonders, and I won. Three suspenders seems fine, but I’d rather have four (more tea, vicar?). I’ve never had more than that, so I don’t know if five-plus is better or worse.

When I draft, especially at big events (for that, read PTQs and up), I like to have a gameplan going in. While it’s early days, I think I’ll be working on honing my U/G drafting in the run-up to Pro Tour: Kobe. At this moment, I believe it is a strong strategy capable of battling with the best the block has to offer.

Of course, with a little more practice under my belt… who knows?

Tomorrow? Constructed. In particular… Slivers.

Until then,

Thanks for listening.

Craig Stevenson
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