The Kitchen Table #150: Why I Love Timeshifted Cards

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For his 150th article for StarCityGames.com (not including stints on the Daily), Abe tells us exactly why he loves the Timeshifted cards from Time Spiral. Congratulations on the big one-five-oh, Abe!

Hello and welcome to my own 150th regular article for the site (not including stuff like dailies and whatnot). It’s been a long ride over many years of happiness and joy. I’ve loved my time here on StarCityGames.com, and can only hope that it will continue for a long time to come.

I just got back from the Time Spiral prerelease a few hours ago, and I am very excited about the new set. I love the art, I love the cards, and I love the feel of the set. In fact, I covet this set. I must have this set. It is a part of me and I need it, like a drug. I can’t wait until the set is released and I can crack open pack after pack of goodness.

However, that is not why I am writing. I am writing today with an issue, sort of. Craig regularly shills in mass emails for more issue articles, which is something I’ve typically shied away from as a Featured Writer. In around 135 Featured Writer articles, I’ve written four issue articles (five if you count Revelations of a Magic Writer). So, in deference to the newer boss, I have decided to spend my 150th anniversary talking about something instead of building decks, reviewing cards, or discussing frameworks and archetypes.

Normally when somebody writes an issue article, they are complaining about something. However, in my case (as you can tell from the title), I am writing in support of something. Obviously, I love the Timeshifted cards in Time Spiral.

Why do I love these things so much? Well, that’s the meat of my article, so let’s get to it:

1. Two Rares in a Pack Makes Up for the Price Increase – The Timeshifted cards are essentially rares. Even if they were initially a common or uncommon, they are still printed with the commonality of a rare. Therefore, that Fiery Temper is a rare, for example. Some of these rares have serious value, like Akroma and Call of the Herd. That makes them just as valuable as any normal pack would be.

Now, to be fair, I think we’ll see a larger number of low-value rares among the Timeshifted cards than we see in normal sets. Fiery Temper is never going to have a high value. Many of these cards are just commons, uncommons, or low value rares already. Very few will increase in price from their previous value, simply because they are now in Standard.

However, these cards are an extra rare, and you still get the bonanza of opening a high value rare. Crack open a Psionic Blast and get a card with some serious financial value. Since this is an extra rare, it’s fine if it has a low value – something like a buck – if it also has a decent chance of being worth eight dollars or more.

If they are going to increase the value of a pack anyway, why not go ahead and add a second rare to the pack? It’s brilliant!

2. It Makes Limited More Exciting – It creates an interesting dynamic in Limited, when each pack essentially has two rares from two different lines of cards. You’ll be trading some damage when, all of a sudden, Bad Moon comes down and your opponent deals a bunch of extra damage. Who expects Bad Moon?

With a guaranteed two rares in each pack, simple Sealed offers additional options that can be quite powerful. Most of these cards are at least Limited playable, and can make a powerful addition to your deck beyond what a normal common might do. After all, cards like Avatar of Woe, Akroma, Fledgling Dragon, Joreal, and Mystic Enforcer have a play value well beyond a normal common. There are many more cards just as powerful. Therefore, in Sealed you can often get one to three powerful rare level cards for your deck.

In Draft, the Timeshifted cards can really supplement a rare drafting strategy. As many readers know, I am a serious advocate of the rare drafting strategy so long as you also have a decent deck at the end. Rare drafting gives you two chances to open a money rare while also getting extra chances to be passed a money rare. I already snatched a Call of the Herd that was passed to me with the second pick at a draft at the prerelease. This adds value to the rare draft experience.

3. It Makes Opening Packs More Exciting – This is a supplement to the first point above. After you’ve opened a lot of packs, you start to look just at the rare when you open a pack. You might also look at the uncommons. Now, when you open a pack, you look at one additional card. If you normally skip over the uncommons, then you get double the number of cards to look at. If you look at the uncommons, then you get 25% more to look at.

At the prerelease, I saw tons of people who loved opening new packs because they not only got early product but also saw the joy of getting a double rare in each pack. It was great, and I can’t wait until release day when I can open more product.

4. Some Cards are Brought Back to Life – Let’s face it, some of these Timeshifted cards haven’t seen the light of day in aeons. Sure, a couple of weeks ago I built a deck with Sindbad here on StarCityGames.com, but how many people have actually been using Sindbad in the past year or so? In fact, how many people had to look up Sindbad because they didn’t know what he did?

Not only is Sindbad now Standard and Extended legal, but he is also now in the collective mind. He matters again. I’m willing to bet that this past weekend hundred of players looked at Sindbad and thought, “He’d be good with <fill in random card here>.” (Like Sensei’s Divining Top, for example, or maybe Callous Deceiver).

There are a lot of Sindbads among the Timeshifted cards. Take a look at Arena, for example, which was barely on most people’s Magic maps prior to the prerelease weekend. How many more people will see Arena as a half decent card now because it’s fresh? How many folks will start playing with Safe Haven?

Now, when I talk about the joy that is Witch Hunter, people will have a frame of reference. Two of my favorite cards of all time are among the Timeshifted cards. One is the afore mentioned Witch Hunter. The second is Vhati Il-Dal. A whole new group of players can get a chance to crack open a Vhati and say, “Wow, I never realized what a powerful card Vhati was until now.” I can actually play Vhati in Limited! Whoo!

Some of these cards in the Timeshifted pile are being brought back into the public consciousness in a major way, and that’s great for the game and casual players alike.

5. If You Didn’t Get One the First Time Around… – Some of these cards were already printed recently and have a high value attached to them. Let’s face it, a lot of casual players just aren’t interested in paying top dollar for many cards. Sure, a casual player might love to get hands on a Shadowmage Infiltrator but isn’t willing to pay a sizable price.

These casual players may luck into opening one or more chase cards that they want, but until the price drops, they aren’t getting any more. Now, there’s a second chance to get Call of the Herd, Akroma, Avatar of Woe, and more. Now a casual player can buy a pack and have a shot at one of these former chase cards that still has a high value on the secondary market.

The same is true of cards like Mirari, cards with a lesser value but which are hard for some casual players to acquire in trade. Now there’s a new chance to open a Mirari or a Bad Moon or a Shadowmage Infiltrator.

With all of these cards being printed, casual players should benefit significantly.

6. You Can Get These Cards in New Ways – I didn’t truly understand this new rule until I cracked a foil Sol’Kanar the Death Machine at the prerelease. I have a friend who has cards of significant value but he has never been able to acquire a black-bordered Sol’Kanar. Now he can.

Most players have never had a reasonable shot at getting a black-bordered Psionic Blast, Nicol Bolas, or Cockatrice. Now cards like these are back and they are available for people to collect black-bordered versions to play in decks.

You never had a chance to get a foil of any card pre-Urza’s Legacy, barring a promo foil. Now you can obtain foil cards from a variety of sets. Sol’Kanar the Death Machine is already a great card now available with a black border. Get a foil one and suddenly you understand the desire some people will have for foil versions of many of these older cards.

A large chunk of the Timeshifted cards are now available in foil for the first time. Sure, you may not want a foil Squire, but imagine a foil Nicol Bolas, Thallid, Eron the Relentless, Pandemonium, Orgg, Bad Moon, or Enduring Renewal. These are going to be cards that players will want to add to their collections. In fact, I think that the price difference between foil Timeshifted cards that fall into this category with their normal versions will likely be higher than the price difference between a foil rare and a normal version.

7. 121 Additional Cards are Added in Standard – None of these cards were Standard legal before Time Spiral. In addition to the normal group of cards that is now legal, Time Spiral brings the 121 Timeshifted cards as well.

This adds a new dynamic to the set and the environment. Now Time Spiral Block will have an additional 121 cards beyond a normal block. What impact will that have for Constructed block decks? Who knows, but I like it. What impact will these 121 cards have on Standard? Who knows, but I like it.

The Timeshifted cards are around the size of an additional set. In addition to releasing a Standard legal set in Coldsnap, these have added another set. Normally, when a new standalone expansion set is released, the Standard environment contracts significantly. When Time Spiral becomes legal, three other sets go away. However, this time, the new set is bringing 121 extra cards to the party. That gives the Standard environment a bit of a boost in a nice way.

8. Playing with Rarity is Fun! – The original booster packs debuted with one rare, three uncommons, and eleven commons. Although a handful of early expansions released sets with different commonality among the uncommons, ever since Mirage, we’ve had tournament legal booster packs with fifteen total cards: one rare, three uncommons, and eleven commons.

This is the first set since the early days of Magic to play with the basic commonality formula. Many other games mimicked the commonality formula with a rare, some uncommons and commons in booster packs (check out Star Wars miniatures or Middle Earth: The Wizards for examples of similar distribution.)

I think it is dandy that Wizards has decided to play around with commonality. In fact, commonality may be one of the few things in Magic that hadn’t been changed. Where borders, symbols, mana, typeface and more were all changed, now commonality has been played with as well.

9. The Idea may Change Magic – I believe that Time Spiral is going to be a major hit. So big in fact, that demand will be so high, that Wizards will ask themselves what worked so well, and then try to replicate that success. When you can buy a booster and get two rares, plus a chance at a third, I think the packs will get snatched up with a glee that only a child at Halloween shows when dumping out their bag of treats and deciding what piece of candy to eat first.

Obviously, we’ll have to see if the next two sets and their Timeshifted cards will similarly attract, but I believe that they absolutely will. What happens then?

I love the idea of 121 old cards getting reprinted, but this may be the only time we will ever see it happen. After all, there are only so many times Wizards could reprint 121 cards with out reprinting cards on the reserve list, uber-powerful cards like Mana Drain, or boring cards like Giant Mantis.

There are only so many goes in the bidet. However, there could be other ways to bring back old cards in a Timeshift without calling it a Timeshift – you just need a theme to build around. For one way, see Appendix A, below.

Now, once you get past the Timeshift thing, take another look at just the double-rare idea. It costs Wizards nothing to print a card, whether it has a purple, gold, silver, or black expansion symbol. Consider the idea that packs have two rares for a minute. Why not? It costs them nothing extra. Why not have two sets of rares, with one card from each set in a pack? We’ll buy the packs in huge numbers, more cards are available to play with, and they make more money. Everybody wins.

Other options include having a super rare that shows up in a common slot or somesuch, but I don’t like that idea all that much.

With all of the fun that Timeshift can bring, I am saddened at the possibility of there not being any more Timeshift reprints after Time Spiral. I am already so in love with this concept that before the set is even released I am already feeling nostalgic about it.

I hope that you love Timeshift just as much as I. Join me next week when our regularly scheduled Five Color set review will emerge. Make sure you check out Appendices A and B below.

Until later,
Abe Sargent

Appendix A – Abe’s Multiplayer Madness Timeshifted

One way Wizards could continue the Timeshift madness would be to release themed sets, like “good casual cards” or so forth. If I had to do a set like this, I’d choose the following cards to Timeshift (note the following list was done without regard to the reserve list, which sucks). This Timeshift set revolves around some of my favorite cards to play in multiplayer.


Akroma, Angel of Wrath *
Change of Heart
Commander Eesha
Defiant Falcon
Foothill Guide
Ivory Gargoyle
Jareth, Leonine Titan
Opal Acrolith
Peace of Mind
Reverent Mantra
Retribution of the Meek
Soltari Emissary
Soul Sculptor
Test of Endurance
Veteran Bodyguard
Windborn Muse
Witch Hunter *


Autumn Willow
Bounty of the Hunt
Call of the Herd *
Canopy Crawler
Emerald Charm
Hall of Gemstone
Ifh-Bith Efreet
Llanowar Elite
Metamorphic Wurm
Nesting Wurm
Scarwood Bandits
Seeds of Innocence
Silklash Spider
Spike Weaver
Spontaneous Generation
Stone-Tongued Basilisk
Strength of Night
Thallid *
Wall of Blossoms


Anaba Spirit Crafter
Chartooth Cougar
Dragon Tyrant
Dwarven Recruiter
Flowstone Overseer
Form of the Dragon
Ghitu Slinger
Goblin Bombardment
Goblin Marshal
Goblin Warrens
Granite Gargoyle
Hunter Sliver
Lightning Surge
Starke of Rath
Zirilian of the Claw


Aphetto Vulture
Avatar of Woe *
Catacomb Dragon
Crypt Angel
Darkness *
Feast or Famine
Haunting Echoes
Lord of the Pit
Mind Whip
Phyrexian Debaser
Phyrexian Scuta
Spoils of War
Stone-Throwing Devils
Thrull Champion
Tombstone Stairwell
Tortured Existence
Vampiric Embrace
Zombie Trailblazer


Alexi, Zephyr Mage
Ambassador Laquatus
Cephalid Looter
Denying Wind
Elder Spawn
Homarid Spawning Bed
Mistform Ultimus *
Phantom Monster
Psychic Allergy
Raven Familiar
Rhystic Study
River Merfolk
Scornful Egotist
Stinging Barrier
Whispers of the Muse *
Willbender *


Clockwork Steed
Erratic Portal
Magma Mine
Mirari *
Obelisk of Undoing
Ring of Gix
Staff of Zegon
Thran Foundry
Ventifact Bottle


Aether Mutation
Angus McKenzie
Firestorm Hellkite
Marsh Goblins
Pygmy Hippo
Sliver Overlord
Suffocating Blast
Vhati Il-Dal *
Void *


Blasted Landscape
Desert *
Gemstone Mine *
Forbidding Watchtower
Safe Haven *
Spite / Malice

* These cards are already printed as Timeshift cards in Time Spiral.

Appendix B – What I Don’t Like About Timeshift

After such a lovey-dovey article, you might wonder what I don’t like about the Timeshifted cards from Time Spiral. The concept of Timeshift as done in Time Spiral is that there are all of these things from the past of Plane Alpha (Dominaria) that are all getting mixed together. Fine idea, but there’s a problem.

Some of the Timeshifted cards are not from Dominaria. These expansion sets take place elsewhere: Arabian Nights, Homelands, Tempest, Stronghold, Exodus, Mercadian Masques, Nemesis, and then every set from Mirrodin on.

Now, you could get away with printing a few Weatherlight characters from the Rath cycle because they are on Dominaria for a while, or Rath characters because they get planeshifted into Dominaria, like Lin-Sivvi or Eladamri or something. You could also print sorceries and instants that are flavorless, like Tortured Existence, that I included above in my list.

However, some cards should never get reprinted as they never had any action with Dominaria. Sindbad is one example. Vhati Il-Dal died before the planeshift, so he would never have made it. Eron the Relentless is another example. Sengir Autocrat and Moorish Calvary are others.

Sure, you can get away with reprinting Giant Oyster, because it is flavorless. Sindbad is not. Reprinting these cards seems to be a serious mistake in flavor.

For proof of my claim, look no farther than this quote from Rei Nakazawa’s article, “Time (Spiral) is on my Side.”

There, reality itself has shattered, creating time rifts that cause Dominaria’s past to collapse into its present, haphazardly bringing people, places, objects, and monsters into being. It is the finishing stroke for a wounded and dying world.

As you can see, the Timeshifted cards from other planes do not work for the flavor reasons of the set, as stated by one of the creative guys himself.