Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #152: Timeshifted Cards and the Times They Shifted From, Part 1

Timeshift has brought back a lot of old cards. Some of these are jokes (Squire), some are bombs (does anyone not immediately put Akroma here?) and some are more marginal. I want to look at the Timeshifted cards that have seen play in Tier 1 decks in their day, and look at whether these cards can do it again. Times have changed – but have they changed enough?

Timeshift has brought back a lot of old cards. Some of these are jokes (Squire), some are bombs (does anyone not immediately put Akroma here?) and some are more marginal. I want to look at the Timeshifted cards that have seen play in Tier 1 decks in their day, and look at whether these cards can do it again. Times have changed – but have they changed enough?

Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Let’s start with an easy one – Akroma – and she’s first only partly because I have the list in alphabetical order. Akroma is a very expensive legend, but she does everything. However, in competitive play, she has really only shone in Reanimator decks and control decks. You certainly don’t want to rely on hard-casting her unless your opponent hasn’t started developing, or unless you have the game well in hand. Like everyone else, I have been playtesting land destruction decks and Blue control for States, and I think the days of relying on six and seven casting cost cards are over. Reanimator decks are more possible, but we certainly won’t see the equivalent of “turn 1 Swamp, Dark Ritual, Funeral Charm yourself to discard Akroma, Animate Dead,” even if Funeral Charm has been reprinted. Today, Zombify is at best a turn 3 spell, and Wizards has made sure that there are splashable hosers for Reanimator – some of which appear further down in this list.

All of which does not mean that a lot of Akromas will be flying around at States. They will.

Arena was originally one of the buy-the-book-get-the-card promos, and was never played – as far as I can tell – in any competitive format. I have a copy, and have played it in some casual decks. On the down side, it is a land that produces no mana and is only really good if you have big creatures – and big creatures mean tapping lands for mana. On the plus side, tapping your creature is not a cost for activating Arena, it’s an effect. You can attack with a creature, and then use Arena before declaration of blockers. Even if your chosen creature dies, the opponent’s champion will be tapped and unavailable for blocking. Arena is great removal, but only if you have a large creature already in play – but if you have one, why not just win with it? Arena is probably fine in draft, but I doubt it will see Constructed play.

Assault / Battery
Assault / Battery combines a minor burn spell with a Hill Giant. It was last played in early Masques block / Invasion Standard, and then only infrequently. Masques block was terribly underpowered, and with just Invasion in print, Standard was short of playable cards. Even then, and even in the Fires of Yavimaya based RG decks, A/B was not stellar. In the new Standard, with all the great Ravnica burn, Coldsnap, and 402 new cards from Time Spiral, the format has plenty of decent cards. Assault / Battery may not make the cut.


Auratog was, actually, played in competitive decks in past Extended seasons. I played an Auratog deck at GP: Vegas. I wrote about my Auratog / Enchantress deck several times. In those days, Auratog was eating Rancors, and the recast Rancors were also drawing cards off the good Enchantresses. Rancor cost one Green to cast and Gaea’s Cradle produced a ton of Green mana – while the last Rancor cast stuck around to provide trample. Time Spiral does have some recurring enchantments, but they cost twice as much, provide useless abilities like Spirit Link, and we don’t have untargettable Enchantresses to draw cards, nor Gaea’s Cradles and Serra’s Sanctums around to power the deck. Auratog should have stayed in retirement.

Avalanche Riders

The last time Darwin was good, it was because Ponza had Seal of Fire, Stone Rain, Wildfire, decent artifact mana, and a good finisher (a cheap dragon), Today, we have – well, everything but an undercosted dragon, but we do have Demonfire. I expect to see several articles on new Ponza / LD decks, and I definitely expect Ponza to show up at States later this month. I think the epoch of the nine-mana dinosaurs is over. LD is back.

Avatar of Woe
This is a total beating in casual games, and in formats like Elder Dragon Highlander. In competitive formats, it has only appeared in occasional Reanimator decks – and even there, Akroma is better. At best, it might be castable in a weird Dredge deck, but with the graveyard hate now available, I don’t see it happening. However, Avatar of Woe has been seen in sideboards in the past, to push through creature stalls in certain matchups, and that might happen again.

Bad Moon
Bad Moon dates back to the days of Black beatdown and Suicide Black – sometimes fueled by Necropotence. Black beatdown, however, is a weenie strategy – and those have had hard sledding against Loxodon Hierarchs and Lightning Helix. It’s worth a try, but I really don’t see it happening. Sure, Bad Moon and Sengir Autocrat are both back, but that still doesn’t make them good. Bad Moon and pump knights worked in an environment where Ernham Djinn was a really fat creature, and even the return of Shadow won’t be enough to make Bad Moon Tier 1. However, since States is all about aggro, expect a few R/B or U/B Bad Moon decks.

Call of the Herd
A bit of history, here – Call of the Herd has never been that successful in beatdown decks. It isn’t really a beatdown card. Instead, Call of the Herd has won the most money and tournaments in aggro-control decks. In Wallamies’s Operation Dumbo Drop, it was featured in a control deck with counters, Wrath, and Intuition (think Gifts Ungiven, but better.) Beyond that, it worked best in versions of The Rock, where it provided pressure while other cards wrecked hands and boards. Call is decent pressure in decks that like to wipe the board clear – but while a base-White deck may want to Wrath and have a threat appear afterward, it might prefer either Griffin Guide or Firemane Angel over a Watchwolf with an elephantine casting cost.

Claws of Gix
Claws of Gix was featured in some fearsome Standard and Extended decks in years past – but that was then, this is now. Claws worked in Stasis to allow the Stasis player to destroy Stasis during an opponent’s turn, so that the Stasis player untapped first. Claws also appeared in Yawgmoth’s Bargain decks, although Renounce was better. No Stasis or Bargain cards are available – and cards like Krovikan Whispers and Phyrexian Etchings are carefully worded to prevent getting much value out of sacrificing them. Right now, Claws looks like an enabler with nothing much to enable, but it’s still worth looking at.

Coalition Victory
The premise of this article is to discuss the Timeshifted cards that have seen play in serious tournaments. Yes, Coalition Victory qualifies. It was used in the sideboard of at least one Rock deck, where it was combined with Sliver Queen for use against decks that had trouble removing enchantments (and huge Black slivers, back in the days when Black removal could not target Black creatures.) Today, the Ravnica Duals and Farseek allow people to assemble all five basics by turn 3 or so, and Transguild Courier is all five colors for four mana – but the Courier is certainly no Sliver Queen.

At various times, in various formats, Dandan has been the sideboard weapon of choice for mono-Blue mirror matches. Games were decided on turn 2, based on who won the counter war over Dandan. Dandan was useful, then, because mono-Blue had so few ways to kill off creatures on the table. Now, Blue usually pairs with another color for removal, and even mono-Blue has Quicksand, Desert, and Serrated Arrows [and Psionic Blast – Craig]. Dandan may still surprise people at States if they are unprepared, but that’s all.

Of course it has seen play, and will see play. White needed this back. For years I wrote about how Green sucked because it could not kill single artifacts or enchantments, back when Green had nothing but Tranquility and Seeds of Innocence effects. Then Green got Naturalize and White got Tempest of Light – and White began to have problems. Inability to deal with problem enchantments and artifacts is a huge limitation – and one Wizards could not afford to stick White with. Black, of course, has discard, and Red – well, Red has to splash.

Dodecapods are singular beasts. Dodecapods live in sideboards, emerging only to prey on discard decks. Dodecapods are rarely amazing, but I pretty much ditched my Rack deck when I heard these were being reprinted – and I picked up four online immediately, while they are still cheap.


Ben Dempsey did this in Extended, and now it’s coming to Standard. Turn 1 land, Lotus Bloom, Lotus Bloom; turn 4, let those resolve, Seething Song, Dragonstorm for four Bogardan Hellkites = game over. It’s a combo that will be hard on aggro decks, especially if the earlier turns are spent casting Lightning Helixes and so forth.

Enduring Renewal
Enduring Ideal was the centerpiece of an old combo deck built around some zero casting cost creatures, Goblin Bombardment and Necropotence (to find the pieces). The useful sacrifice engine is now missing – although Wild Cantor can provide enough mana to recast itself again and again, creating a huge storm count, and Thermopod and Ornithopter can produce infinite amounts of Red mana. Just remember that one rule of combo decks is that the pieces should be good on their own. In other words, imagine drawing any two of these without the other piece. Thermopod beatdown sound exciting? How about mulliganing into four land and two Ornithopters

Evil Eye of Orms-by-Gore
The big Eye has seen play at States, a number of years back. Evil Eye appeared in some UB control decks, as a way of stopping Blastoderms and other creatures arriving hastily via Fires of Yavimaya. Early in the game, it was a decent wall. Late in the game, it was a hard to kill, albeit slow, clock. Modern Standard, however, has no problem killing fat Black creatures, so I don’t see it being that strong – except against burn decks.

Faceless Butcher

Faceless Butcher has seen tournament play – but only when combined with a sacrifice outlet. Sacrificing is important, because that can trigger the “return to play” effect on top of the “remove from play” trigger. The result is that Faceless Butcher becomes a Black Swords to Plowshares, without the life gain. Faceless Butcher would have been so useful against the Kamigawa dragons, but it seems less important now.

Feldon’s Cane

Feldon’s Cane was once a win condition in Chronatog / Stasis decks, but the fifty-minute round, and the fact that Stasis was never even considered for Timeshifting, means that this is pure chaff. Thank gawd.

Funeral Charm
I wish this was Ebony Charm, but Funeral Charm is notable as a method of making an opponent discard during their draw step, so it can be relevant. It’s brutal on an Isochron Scepter, but that’s Extended. At States, it may be useful merely because it is never dead.

Gaea’s Blessing
Gaea’s Blessing is a powerful card. It can fight against Reanimator decks. It can turn off an opponent’s dredge engine. It can return your good cards from your graveyard to library. It’s a cantrip. It is also amazing with any effects that mill your library. Having Gaea’s Blessing in the format is almost a guarantee that mill decks are dead. Blessing may also enable some unusual dredge strategies.

Gaea’s Blessing made its biggest splash in Turboland decks. Turboland is gone, but some other decks designed to abuse the power of Gaea’s Blessing are sure to appear.

Gemstone Mine
Gemstone Mine is similar to Tendo Ice Bridge, and will perform the same mana-fixing duties. Like Ice Bridge, it combos quite well with the Karoo lands. Gemstone Mine is gravy on top of all the multicolored goodness. We now live in a world where solid multicolored manabases are available for the taking. It wasn’t like that in my day. You kids got it good. We had to trudge ninety miles through a blizzard just for a City of Brass – and we were happy to get it. And it was uphill. Both ways. You kids got it good.

And I have a playset of judge foil Gemstone Mines. So there.


Sorry – senility and second childhood just crashed. Senility was driving slowly, left turn signal on, in the fast lane. Second childhood was speeding and adjusting its iPod. The collision was terrible, but I’m okay now.

Grinning Totem
Again, this has seen tournament play, but in a different world. In years past, control decks played very few win conditions, and stealing one could be relevant. Now, we have split cards that do much the same thing as the Totem, and the splits are not played, either. The biggest problem is that Grinning Totem does not affect the board or your opponent’s hand. Even Muse Vessel is better – it at least doubles as discard.

Hail Storm
Green has an answer to weenie swarms – including flying weenie swarms. This, along with Sandstorm, have been sideboard cards in some greenish decks in years past. Whether this is any good depends solely on the metagame. Right now, anything that I have been testing that could run this has Elves or Birds, so I don’t see it. However, it is one more thing to consider if you are looking at White Weenie for States.

Honorable Passage
Honorable Passage has a long history of seeing sideboard play against red decks. I remember scrounging these for Ingrid’s first Counterslivers decks, and Honorable Passage had a long history at that time. It is a very, very good card – but it won’t stop a hellbent Demonfire. It also targets the creature or player being protected, so you can’t stop Pyroclasm, globally, the way you could with Shining Shoal.

Hunting Moa
Hunting Moa has seen play, mainly in the old Moa Boa deck where it pumped islandwalking regenerators. A mono-Green beatdown deck seems possible, although it may be difficult to pilot something like that through a field of combo decks, burn, and control decks with Wrath of God. Only time, and testing, will tell.

Lightning Angel

Lightning Angel last saw serious play in Star Spangled Slaughter, in the GP: Vegas Extended metagame, before that meta became dominated by Miracle-Gro and Super-Gro. Lighting Angel was both finisher and a means of keeping the weenies in check. Star Spangled Slaughter dealt with larger threats via Swords to Plowshares, counters, and Lightning Bolts. The deck was a good R/W/U aggro-control. In that environment, however, most burn spells could not kill a size four butt. Now, with Char, Skred, Psionic Blast and more, the Angel’s butt may not be big enough.

This card was reviewed while listening to the Rolling Stones. Can you tell?

Mindless Automaton

Way back in the Bob Maher Extended season, Mike Hron just missed a GP Top 8 with a Squee-Bind deck. That deck used Survival and Squee, Goblin Nabob, and Stormbind, but it also used Mindless Automaton for card drawing. Mindless was a card engine with Squee, but we don’t have any cards that return to your hand quite so easily as the Nabob. (Yes, Eidolons, but that means putting a lot of lands, and mono-colored Eidolons, and Mindless Automaton, into your deck, then casting lots of multicolored cards. Sure – but do you have any room for a win condition in that mess?) Mindless Automaton is also amusing with Doubling Season, and does provide a Madness outlet, so it has some potential, but I don’t see it yet.

Mirari was played in a few decks, but mainly with Mirari’s Wake or Cabal Coffers pumping out whole gobs of mana. Gobs of mana isn’t so easy now, and the Candelabra dude means we won’t see anything like Coffers anytime soon. At best, we have the Urzatron. With a lot of mana, Mirari could fork some good card drawing spells. Without a ton of mana, though, Mirari is less exciting. It has potential in control decks, but control has a lot of other, powerful five-mana cards, starting with Teferi.

Mystic Enforcer
Mystic Enforcer saw play in some threshold decks, and I remember playing it in a G/W Armageddon deck, but Armageddon is not currently available. On the plus side, with threshold, Enforcer dodges most of the removal now in print, but it still cannot tangle with Akroma. It has potential – but not necessarily legs.

I did a quick scan for decks with Mystic Enforcer, but all I could find are five-color decks. Wait – and Miracle Gro. Okay – if Mystic Enforcer could hang out with Force of Will and Swords to Plowshares, I guess it has what it takes.

Mystic Snake
Mystic Snake appeared in some Invasion block tempo decks. The Snake was important there, and it has been important in Prismatic because it is a counterspell that can be fetched with Chord of Calling and Congregation at Dawn. However, the Snake is a four-mana counter, and those are rarely played. On the other hand, UG has everything from shadow looters to Trygon Predator to Simic Sky Swallower, so UG control might want another Snake. Only playtesting will tell.


Pandemonium has seen play in at least three Extended decks. In Dread Panda Roberts, it was used together with Phyrexian Dreadnaughts (which, at that time, actually came into play, then died if you did not sacrifice creatures), an old Oath of Druids / Pandemonium hybrid and in PandeBurst, which used Saproling Burst and Pandemonium to deal a fast 21 damage. Only one of these decks actually cast its creatures – Dread Panda Roberts – and that was because the creatures cost just one colorless mana. (DPR also reanimated them.) The Oath variant used Oath to cheat fatties into play, and PandeBurst used Replenish to put both Pandemonium and Burst into play. The secret to good Pandemonium decks is that you don’t actually cast fat creatures to trigger Pandemonium, you cheat them into play. If you try to hard cast Pandemonium, then creatures, the odds are that your opponent will be doing the same thing. If you tap out to play Pandemonium on turn 4, he will probably cast a creature, which will do some Pandemonium damage and set him ahead on the creature / damage race. Not good. I don’t see much in the format that would facilitate putting either Pandemonium or the creatures into play for free, so this is probably going nowhere. Not that I mind – PandeBurst did more to keep me off the Pro Tour than any other deck.

Psionic Blast
Way, way back, Vintage had a potent Zoo deck that ran Red for Lightning Bolt and Kird Ape, Green for some fat, and Blue for Ancestral Recall, Time Walk and Psionic Blast. Blast was critical, because it was the best burn spell in the format at the time – and the deck already ran Blue because the restricted Blue cards are, and were, insane. In the modern format, Blue decks can already splash for Char. Psionic Blast is the same basic card, but it does mean that other color combos, like U/B, now have access to Char as well. It certainly does not make Blue any weaker to have this in the mix. I think it may work best in a U/B Bob deck, but it’s still early in testing.

Sacred Mesa
Sacred Mesa saw play in at least two main archetypes: Enchantress in Extended and nearly mono-White Parfait in old Vintage. Enchantress, at the time, had Serra’s Sanctum tapping for a dozen Pegasi a turn. Parfait had Moat and Vintage goodness. Both formats had significantly fewer and worse creatures seeing play than we have today. Mesa works when something else controls the board, and the deck has access to lots of spare White mana. I’m not sure what deck can pull that off in the new Standard, even with the new Gauntlet of Power.

This takes us about halfway through the list, making it a good place to stop for now. Next time, part two, plus what I plan to bring to States.


pete {dot} jahn {at} Verizon {dot} net