Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #153: Timeshifted Cards and the Times They Shifted From, Part Two

Time Spiral has brought back a lot of old cards. Some had a glorious past. Some had flashes of greatness. Some are, well, Squire. We’ll ignore Squire, and look at the tournament history of the other Timeshifted cards instead. The question, of course, is whether any of these are going to make a comeback at States, or in Extended this fall.

Time Spiral has brought back a lot of old cards. Some had a glorious past. Some had flashes of greatness. Some are, well, Squire. We’ll ignore Squire, and look at the tournament history of the other Timeshifted cards instead. The question, of course, is whether any of these are going to make a comeback at States, or in Extended this fall.

Part one, here, covered the first half of the list, and ended with Sacred Mesa. Let’s start again with Scragnoth.

Scragnoth was sideboard material, at best, in a world of mono-Blue decks. Back in the days of Capsize Blue and so forth, Blue still “splashed” for artifact creatures to deal with Scragnoth, resorted to artifact removal like Powder Keg or Nev’s Disk, or just relied on Hibernation. In the current Standard, Blue has no trouble finding removal cards from other colors – even if it has to splash two other colors for cards like Putrefy and Mortify. I can’t see Scragnoth scaring Blue mages much – not even with if Scragnoth finds a really good Halloween costume (like, for instance, a nifty Cloak.)

Serrated Arrows
Back in the day, Serrated Arrows saw a lot of sideboard play – but mainly because of a strange little rule that said that all Pro Tour decks had to have at least five Homelands cards. Serrated Arrows was, for most colors, the best of a bad lot. However, Serrated Arrows does kill a lot of annoying little creatures, and ones that can be hard to deal with otherwise. Serrated Arrows kills Dark Confidant, makes sure that Ohran Viper and Shadowmage Infiltrator never draw cards, and stops both shadowy and flying x/1s with ease. Serrated Arrows is not the second coming of sliced bread, but this stale old relic may slice through some opponents at States.

Shadow Guildmage

I have to admit that I cannot find specific decklists from Mirage era tournaments, other than post-Saga Extended. In that environment, Shadow Guildmage did not see much play. However, Shadow Guildmage is an extremely cheap Black pinger, and that may have some value in Rakdos decks. Whether it actually works out is why we playtest.

Shadowmage Infiltrator
I don’t have any lack of Tier 1 decklists that include Jon Finkel invitational card. Shadowmage Infiltrator has seen play in everything from Block to Legacy. An Ophidian with fear is a useful card, and that has not changed. Psychatog is no longer around to fill the three-mana slot in U/B decks, which is a plus for Finkel. On the down side, a lot more cards can kill a three-toughness Black creature than in the past, and Serrated Arrows can turn it off (as a 0/2, it deals no damage.)

Reprinting Shadowmage Infiltrator does create the potential for some amazing card advantage in a beatdown decks. For example:

4 Birds of Paradise
4 Ohran Viper
4 Dark Confidant
4 Hypnotic Specter
4 Shadowmage Infiltrator

4 Mana Leak
4 Remand
4 Psionic Blast
2 Last Gasp
2 Putrefy
2 Giant Growth (or equivalent)

4 Breeding Pool
4 Watery Grave
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Gemstone Mine
4 Llanowar Wastes
2 Golgari Rot Farm

Sol’kanar the Swamp King
Sol’Kanar was a Five-Color staple in years past. I’m not sure whether it saw any play in tournaments back when Legends was part of Standard or Extended – it did not towards the end, during Necro summer, and that’s the only period for which I have records. Sol’Kanar has not been legal outside of Legacy and Vintage for a long time. It is also a 5/5 for five mana, with a couple of semi-useful abilities. More importantly, it does not die to a lot of common removal spells, which makes it a little more useful. If Black decks are common, this swampwalker could see sideboard play.

Soltari Priest
Soltari Priest and Soltari Monk were staples from the White Weenie days of old. In those days, they got pumped by Crusade, but Glorious Anthem is nearly as good. Soltari Priest has one advantage – it is protected from Pyroclasm and similar Red removal spells. Its evasion is also solid. About the only thing this card has to fear is Serrated Arrows, Desert, and Black removal. If White or W/x Weenie has any chance in the new Standard – and it probably does – then Soltari Priest will be part of those decks.

Spike Feeder
Spike Feeder was an important part of a number of decks, from those based around Survival of the Fittest to Jamie Wakefield Secret Force. Spike Feeder was part of a set of spikes in those decks. Secret Force played Spike Feeders and Spike Weavers. What made spikes useful, however, was that they mess with combat math. Spikes allow you to move power and toughness around at instant speed. Spike Feeder is good – although Spike Weaver was the more powerful card, and Spike Cannibal might be more important in the expected Standard metagame. Spike Feeder, though, is probably only going to be useful in a graft deck, or aggressive mono- or base-Green deck, and I’m not sure just how good those will be in a world with fast combos and control decks.


Stormbind was last used in an Extended deck back when Maher Oath ruled the roost – and that is a long time ago. In its day, Stormbind had Squee, Goblin Nabob to pitch to Stormbind each and every turn. That’s no longer true. However, Life from the Loam does allow you to pitch three land per turn pretty much indefinitely. Some recent Extended decks have used Seismic Assault for much the same purpose, and Stormbind is easier to cast than the triple-Red Assault. Unfortunately, Stormbind also requires two mana per shot, which is pricey, but it could act as a madness enabler. This is yet another good tool, but whether the job needs this tool remains to be seen.

New Standard is looking a lot like Extended right now. The card pool is huge, and a huge chunk of that pool is playable. We have lots of potential combo decks – the only question is which combo is fast and reliable enough to be worth.

Stupor has seen play in some Black decks, mainly in the sideboard. Stupor isn’t Hymn to Tourach (thank gawd), but it sure isn’t Mind Rot, either. Stupor has the potential to see some play in decks built around The Rack and Smallpox, but cards like Muse Vessel might be better in that deck, and not playing that deck might be the best option of all. Stupor may work better as a sideboard card against combo. Mike Long’s Invitational deck did that – it was a fast beatdown deck that boarded in Stupor and Unmask. Nowadays that sideboard might be Stupor and Persecute – but what would really help against combo is a good turn 1 discard spell, like Duress or Unmask. Stupor doesn’t fill that role.

Teferi’s Moat
Teferi’s Moat saw some play in U/W Control decks at States when Invasion first became legal, and later at Regionals and thereafter. It helped that Sixth Edition – then legal – included Enlightened Tutor to find a singleton Moat, but we have Supply / Demand to do that now. Teferi’s Moat is good at stopping mono-colored creature beatdown, but a few things have changed since Invasion was Standard legal. First, multicolored decks are more common, and Teferi’s Moat only stops one color. Second, Green – the ground pounder color – now has a bunch of good ways of killing a Moat. Third, Red decks – unlike the Goblin decks of yore – can easily finish the game with burn, even if their ground attack is stalled completely after turn five. Even so, I would expect a couple copies of this to see some play at States, because any aggro players without a method of dealing with this are in trouble.

The Rack
This isn’t Black Vise – although the first person to try to tell me about The Rack being on the purple list got them confused. I believe that The Rack did see some play in very old school control, alongside Disrupting Scepter and so forth. That was a long time ago, and I’m not sure whether that time has come again. The Rack is better than Megrim – unlike Megrim, it actually works after you have forced your opponent to discard or play out their hand. On the flip side, we have had a Rack equivalent in the format for two years (remember the 3/3 rat guy?), and that has not seen any play. I tested some Rakdos / Rack decks a bit – I’m not too happy with them.

Thornscape Battlemage
Thornscape Battlemage is another card that I remember far more from Five-Color decks than from Constructed, but he did show up – especially in Fires of Yavimaya decks. The Battlemages have always been sort of like Swiss Army knives – they are a bit clunky and awkward, but sometimes you really need one of the special attachments. In Thornie’s case, the most useful attachment is probably the ability to kill Paladin En-Vec, although the ability to kill random artifacts like Gauntlet of Power or Mirari may be useful as well. Standard looks to be a hard, fast battle, so whether we can fit a tool like Thornscape Battlemage into decks – or whether decks have to be all weapons – remains to be seen.

Tormod’s Crypt
Tormod’s Crypt has always been a solid Reanimator and graveyard hoser in Vintage play. It has not been legal in Extended and Standard formats for a long time. In Five-Color, I have always played one, generally fetching it with a Trinket Mage. In the past, dropping a Crypt has meant that the other player’s graveyard is gone, because the Crypt could be sacrificed in response to anything that could target or stop it. Now, however, split second cards can bounce or destroy the Crypt, meaning that it can be played around, if necessary. Crypt is an important weapon, but it has to be drawn before the Reanimator deck gets the spells off – which means a minimum of three or four in the sideboard. Is there room?

On a related note, I see Mishra’s Bauble and Tormod’s Crypt in the current standard, and Fountain of Youth returning in Tenth Edition. That is a lot of zero-mana artifacts. I’m not quite sure what to do with them, but having a fifth of a deck worth of free, splashable spells may be something to work with, if some enabler cards (like Storm?) appear. At least Wizards did not reprint Tolarian Academy. Yet.

Tribal Flames
Tribal Flames has not seen play since, well, last Extended season. It is one of those fringe Domain cards, like Collective Restraint, that can be very good if you are able to really work your manabase. The question is whether anything else in the format makes working that hard on your manabase worthwhile – and, no, the answer is not Coalition Victory. However, if you can reliably get four land types into play, this is better than Volcanic Hammer and cheaper than Char.

Twisted Abomination

Twistie has always been great in Limited, but has never been outstanding in sixty card decks (mainly because other colors had better cycling decks.) I played him at GP: Minneapolis, back in the day, but I missed day 2 that time out. In the current Standard, his ability to fetch duals makes him solid mana fixing, especially in control decks where his ability to fetch lands at end of turn is a plus. Once in play, he is an above-average beater and a very strong blocker. Still, he is a bit pricey and dies to Last Gasp, so he is anything but a lock in the format. Reanimator decks will have better options, and for about the same hard-cast cost you can have a flying shadow fattie.

Unstable Mutation
This has seen play in a lot of Vintage and old beatdown decks. Fish love being unstable, and some early zoo denizens turned mutant in the past as well. It is a Blue Giant Growth that sticks around, and that can be very important for water-based decks heading towards the Desert. This is one card that might make U/x aggro work – and the card that will break Chisei, Heart of the Oceans in Extended. That said, this is only good in extremely fast beatdown decks, with exceptional evasion. It also suffers in a field full of good burn and removal spells.

Years ago, a deck called Machine Head hovered on the edge of Tier 1 status. It was R/B, and combined burn, discard, removal and some big creatures to control the board. Void was a critical part of the strategy, being, along with Flametongue Kavu, one of the few cards that can manage a two-for-one or better. Void kills pretty much anything – even Akroma – and can wreck your opponent’s hand while doing so. (Although probably less hand wreckage will be involved when offing Akroma than when offing Loxodon Hierarchs or Ohran Vipers.) Void is a very potent card, but a Machine Head style control decks will still have problems with a top-decked Debtors’ Knell.

Wall of Roots

Looking back over my play history, I think I have played more sanctioned matches with Wall of Roots in my Constructed decks than any other card (aside from basic lands, of course, and maybe Yavimaya Elder.) Wall of Roots was the reason that my G/B Survival deck smashed Goblins. It accelerated my deck and let me Survival on my turn and my opponent’s. It powered Secret Force. It is just an amazingly good Green card. The only downside – and it is a real downside – is that aggro decks do not want a wall, and control decks don’t necessarily want much Green, so it may not see much play. I’ll play them, but then I always play them, at least in my casual decks.

Whirling Dervish
This was a sideboard card against mono-Black decks back in the days of Ernha-Geddon decks, and saw some sideboard use in aggressive green decks at later times. I even faced a Legion Land Loss deck that brought in a couple. If this gets through even a couple times, it gets very big and hard to stop. On the down side, it is double Green to cast, and it has to actually connect before growing – and until it does, it can be blocked and killed by practically everything. Whirling Dervish seems like crank starters for cars – a nice bit of nostalgia, but nothing I ever want, or expect, to use again.

Whispers of the Muse
For many years, the heart of Blue control decks was counterspells and instant speed card drawing to restock those counters. When I first started playing, I faced control decks that used counters, backed by Capsize and Whispers of the Muse, to make life totally miserable for the opponent. While Whispers isn’t quite Fact or Fiction, it still cycles early and draws card after card late. The only question is whether modern opponents can hold dangerous enough instants to punish a control player that taps six mana during an end step. Teferi is one such threat – but I’m not sure what other colors could threaten. Cards like Boil are gone – replaced by sorcery-speed Boiling Seas.

Wildfire Emissary
I once saw Wildfire Emissaries in a sideboard of a mid-range Red control deck, for use against White Weenie decks back in the day of Swords to Plowshares. In those days, anything that could get stats of 4/4 or better was a monster. The world is different now. Most decks will have plenty of non-White removal, and even mono-White decks will have plenty of shadow dudes or fliers that the Emissary cannot block. With only fifteen slots in the sideboard and what looks like a very diverse metagame, I’m not sure what sort of deck might find room for this.

Willbender knows one trick, and only one trick. If you need that trick – if, for instance, a lethal hellbent Demonfire is aimed at your dome – it is a very good trick. In other circumstances, Willie is a Grey Ogre when morphed, and Grey Ogres are rarely tournament worthy. If you play it unmorphed, it is a blue Squire. Squire is, what? An Omega Myr that can suffer from color screw? Ugh. If you really need the opponent to worry that your morph might be Willbender, play a morphed Voidmage Prodigy instead. At least Kai’s card has its stats in the right order. (Yes, I know, Kai can’t handle a hellbent Demonfire. Willbender, on the other hand, cannot handle a Wrath of God. Of course, Kai could sacrifice Willbender to counter the Wrath, but that just shows why Kai was a better player.)

Witch Hunter
I have vague memories of Witch Hunter seeing play in some weird tournament deck, but the decklists with Witch Hunter I can find are casual stuff. It probably doesn’t much matter – any metagame that featured Witch Hunter has to be miles away from the current world. I can envision Witch Hunter bouncing blockers and pinging players, but the games where I see that happening all seem to be limited, not constructed.

Withered Wretch
The final creature in the purple list – Withered Wretch – has certainly seen plenty of tournament play, most recently in G/B Extended decks. Withered Wretch is an answer, more or less, to a lot of graveyard recursion strategies. In the modern Standard, he should be able to hit play and be active before the opponent can cast Zombify, although he is vulnerable to removal. The double-Black casting cost also causes some problems; if your deck is not heavily Black, you probably won’t be able to cast the Wretch in time to make a difference.

That completes the tournament history of the cards on the great purple list. Several of these will be writing new entries, starting at states.

In the previous article, I mentioned that I would reveal what I would be taking to States. Right now, that looks like a striped shirt – my TO needs judges. That, and work, has slowed up my playtesting. I like the above deck, but I won’t swear by it.

Getting the Cards

Last year, at Regionals, I noticed a lot of good players with solid team backing who could not get the cards for their decks. That was especially true of the dual lands. I don’t know if it will be as bad this year, since many of the Timeshifted reprints are, after all, reprints. Getting your hands on four Psionic Blasts may be tricky and expensive, but not impossible. The same will be true of Dragonstorm and the dragons to go with it, or most of the other rares needed for the new Standard. It’s not like Breeding Pools – the dual lands were cards nearly every deck wanted, but nowhere to be had in sufficient numbers. The new Time Spiral rares are either nowhere near as ubiquitously needed as dual lands, while those that will be widely used (e.g. Gemstone Mine) are reprints.

The one place where acquiring cards is going to be a real pain is online. While all the Timeshifted cards are reprints in the paper world, many of these have never seen print online before. There will be one Psionic Blast per 121 Time Spiral packs opened, and that’s all that there will be online. Chase cards indeed. Some other cards, like Shadowmage Infiltrator, Call of the Herd, and anything from Invasion block are reprints even online, but they are pricey.

Here are a list of the Timeshifted cards that have never before appeared online. The cards that I expect to see a lot of tournament play – those I expect these to be 20+ tickets cards for a long time – are in bold.

Avalanche Riders
Avatar of Woe
Avoid Fate
Bad Moon
Claws of Gix

Consecrate Land
Craw Giant
Dauthi Slayer
Defiant Vanguard

Dragon Whelp
Enduring Renewal (if an ER combo proves playable)
Eron the Relentless
Evil Eye of Orms-by-Gore
Feldon’s Cane
Fiery Justice
Fire Whip
Flying Men

Gaea’s Blessing
Gaea’s Liege
Gemstone Mine
Ghost Ship
Giant Oyster
Goblin Snowman
Hail Storm
Icatian Javelineers
Jolrael, Empress of Beasts

Kobold Taskmaster
Lord of Atlantis
Merfolk Assassin
Merieke Ri Berit
Mindless Automaton
Moorish Cavalry
Nicol Bolas
Orcish Librarian

Pirate Ship
Psionic Blast
Safe Haven
Serrated Arrows

Sol’kanar the Swamp King
Soltari Priest
Spike Feeder
Spined Sliver
Spitting Slug
Swamp Mosquito

The Rack
Tormod’s Crypt
Uncle Istvan
Unstable Mutation
Uthden Troll
Vhati il-Dal
War Barge

Whirling Dervish
Whispers of the Muse
Witch Hunter

Online Standard is going to be an expensive place for a long time to come.


pete {dot} jahn {at} Verizon {dot} com