Time Spiral Limited – Drafting U/W

Stuart Wright is primarily known for his Constructed prowess. That said, while his sixty-card ability trumps his forty-card play, Stuart’s Limited skill is by no means the red-headed stepchild of the relationship. Today he brings us his personal pick orders for the ultra-aggressive Blue/White draft archetype, plus some sample decks and a few play examples. Stuart has had a lot of success with this color combination… can it work for you?

While I like to remain open while drafting, in general I have found that I end up in U/W an awful lot. To some extent, this is personal preference, but when you keep winning with a certain type of deck you tend to keep drafting it. I played in quite a lot of Magic Online 2x Premier Events, making Topv8 in about ten of them. I drafted U/W pretty much every time, making the finals six of those times… and every time, I was extremely happy with my deck. So while I don’t like forcing one deck in general, I would certainly recommend trying to draft this deck whenever possible.

This draft format is very fast and trying to defend is made very difficult by a number of different evasion types – Flying, Shadow, and to some extent Flanking. This means that rather than trying to stabilize the ground before flying over, like some U/W decks have done in the past, it is a lot stronger to be on the attack straight away. While most of the people drafting are trying to do this as well, you really want to push the aggressive nature of your deck by taking as many cheap one- and two-drops as possible. This applies to other colors as well, but I have found that U/W has a lot of quality two-drops and it is very possible to finish the game on turn 6. While drafting, you want to keep in mind your goal of being the beatdown. I feel that I never want to be defensive in this format – any picks should reflect that.

Pick Orders

While cards move up and down depending on what you have in your card pool at any given time, it is good to have a base line for where you pick different cards. If nothing else, you can compare your list to others and discuss the differences. To prevent this becoming too complicated, I’m going to place the commons in their pick-order only, before highlighting the better uncommons. This order also assumes you know you are in U/W, so if you might end up as U/R then you might want to take a slightly weaker Blue card over a White one to stay in color. The pick order reflects the fact that quite often you will end up with more White cards than Blue, and things like Ivory Giant push you in this direction. This means that something like Spiketail Drakeling is a bit lower.

Errant Ephemeron
Amrou Scout
Temporal Isolation
Looter Il-Kor
Benalish Cavalry
Fathom Seer
Castle Raptors
Momentary Blink
Ivory Giant
Coral Trickster
Crookclaw Transmuter
Errant Doomsayer
Amrou Seeker
Spiketail Drakeling
Cloudchaser Kestrel
Slipstream Serpent
Zealot Il-Vec
Flickering Spirit
Viscerid Deepwalker
Temporal Eddy
Drifter Il-Dal

Cards like Cloudchaser Kestrel and Zealot Il-Vec have both moved down my pick orders a lot. They are both pretty bad if you have multiple Temporal Isolations or Griffin Guides. Viscerid Deepwalker is quite a bit higher if you have plenty of Islands, as he does fit well with the deck as long as you can suspend him on turn 1. Other people have suggested that the Amrou Scout is overrated. However, these types of deck empty their hands very fast, leaving you with spare mana to recruit. He does die a lot, but this isn’t really a bad thing as you have plenty of other quality creatures they want to remove too. Don’t be afraid to swing in with him if it forces more damage, especially if you don’t have lots of mana. The Errant Doomsayer is higher up for me than most people, again empathizing your aggressive roll. He moves down a bit if you already have lots of two-drops, but I have no problem playing ten or more two mana spells in my decks – the ability to double drop on turn 4 can really put you in the driving seat. Both Temporal Eddy and Drifter Il-Dal are much better when you are ahead and racing. While this is your aim for the deck, I still don’t like them much because they make it harder to come back from behind. You don’t want too many of them, if possible.

Uncommons to look for include Riftwing Cloudskate – which might well but the best uncommon in the set and is certainly the one I most want to open. The tempo swing is just huge, and casting Momentary Blink on it is pretty much unbeatable. Duskrider Peregrine is another powerful card and is slightly better than Errant Ephemeron. The slightly lower costs pushed it over the top in an Aggressive deck. Outrider En-Kor is another powerful creature, and once you have one it pushes any Amrou Scouts slightly higher as searching him up is worth four mana. Celestial Crusader is the perfect fit for this sort of deck, and if you are fast enough pumping their White creatures is okay as long as you are racing. Fledging Mawcor is card that seems very underrated to me, as it is very good and I see it very late. It deals with creatures, something U/W can struggle with, and it’s just another very high-quality creature.

This pick order should hopefully leave you with a lot of two-drops so you can curve out most games, sometimes making two creatures on turn 4. The ideal game ends on turn 6 with a Fortify and a few suspend creatures. Bear in mind that if you suspend a Errant Ephemeron and an Ivory Giant you can stack their triggers on turn 6 so both can attack.

Of course, trying to be more aggressive means some good cards go down on the pick order. For example: Careful Consideration, while a fine card, isn’t very aggressive. This is not to say you shouldn’t play it, just that other people will pick it higher so you won’t see it late enough for you to want it. Cards like Dream Stalker are generally too defensive, although you have cheap stuff to return, and a low curve – still, a 1/5 body doesn’t do much for you. Tolarian Sentinel, which some people seem to love, is too defensive and has no place in this sort of deck. Castle Raptors suffers from this a little, but it is such a strong card you can afford a few higher costing spells as long as you don’t over do it.

Sample Decks

As I just finished the draft from the second deck, I’m going to go through a few sample games to show how this deck plays out.

In the first round I played against a U/G deck that started off with suspended Viscerid Deepwalker and Riftwing Cloudskate. My start was Looter Il-Kor followed by morphed Slipstream Serpent. When my opponent tried to ambush my morph with Ashcoat Bears, Momentary Blink gave me a 6/6 on turn 4. Although he did manage to bounce it by using the Cloudskate and a Snapback, the tempo loss was too much as the Looter ensured that I played out a creature each turn, quickly overrunning him. The second game was pretty similar, with Blink on the Serpent ambushing a Sporesower Thallid.

In the second round I managed to destroy an Opal Guardian with Cloudchaser Kestrel and a Momentary Blink. However, my opponent made a morph in his R/W deck, which was bad news as my deck had few ways to deal with a Fortune Thief. After a while he stabilized against my flyers with a Basalt Gargoyle, while the ground was blocked up my Serpent. Luckily, after a few turns of simply sitting around, I drew Coral Trickster and Prodigal Sorcerer. This allowed me to break through and deal with the morphed Fortune Thief. The next game was a bit of an anticlimax, as he didn’t do much so I played around a Desolation Giant I passed. He cast things like Fury Sliver, and I killed him pretty quickly, even holding back a little. The finishing blow was when I flashed back Blink on my Ivory Giant in his turn.

I split the finals, so no games there.


Clearly you can’t always draft this deck if too many other people are also in Blue and White, but both those colors are pretty deep and can support a reasonable number of people. This deck doesn’t need any one card, as there are plenty of U/W cards that fill a similar function so you pretty much always end up with a functioning deck. I have never ended up with a deck I was unhappy with when drafting U/W, so I would certainly recommend others try this style of drafting.

Good luck,