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20 November, 2006

Timespiral : Common things are common


By Dr. Chunk

We all know the feeling; the anticipation; the hope of opening that bomb rare when we crack open our first booster in a draft. We all get disheartened when some random guy beats us down with that Bogardan Hellkite / Akroma / Avatar of Woe he opened. But as much as we hope the rares are nice to us it is the common cards that you see more of and get to play with.

And so we come to my aim for todays session – Timespiral (TS) commons.

For those of you not aware or frequenters of our forum we have been trying to have a discussion regarding pick orders for the different colours in Timespiral. In the end the “discussion” really just ended up with my opinion and mostly people not arguing, so I felt that it may well be worth formalising said opinions and sharing them with you all. I will therefore attack my way through all the commons, giving opinions and feelings about play quality and how high you should really be taking things.

Are we all sitting comfortably? Then I will begin:


Magic: The GatheringAmrou Scout – Rebels have an illustrious history from a time in Magic when I was not playing (considering Masques was generally poo). Stats alone the scout is not an unreasonable pick as it qualifies with the two power for two mana “Bear” category. However this bear does more than just beat – he gets friends as well. The friends he can get include:

Knight of the Holy Nimbus
Outrider En Kor
Zealot Il Vec
Errant Doomsayers
Children of Korlis
Amrou Seekers

Drafting mono-white is not an unreasonable strategy in TS draft but you have to be the only one on your side of the table going for it. To that end it is difficult to say that the scout is first pick, but if you get passed one third or fourth you can argue it may be worth trying to get some rebels. You only need a handful of the above to make this man worth the whole 2 mana you are spending on him.

Amrou Seekers – A white Grey Ogre with a White fear. Exciting? Not particularly. Decent? Certainly. There is not too much to say about this man except that he is, of course, a rebel. Evasion is also always good, no matter how loose it can be. Note that if you draft mono-white chances are only one other person can block this guy. A high to mid choice, but not first pick.

Benalish Cavalry – The obligatory twist on Glory Seeker this guy is solid for his cost, swings the good swing and sets up a good tempo. Solid but not special – you can always use a couple of these guys on your aggro curve (though he does fill the same slot as the superior Scout).

Castle Raptors – The pros seem to love this guy and I can just about understand why. His stats are very reasonable for the cost and when on the defensive there is little that can kill him outright. Towards the end of the game he can still sail across with his evasion and deal a good amount of damage. A little costly for my liking but worth getting a couple of before someone else snaffles him.

Children of Korlis – On first look this man is a poor Kami of False Hope. On second look he is still a poor Kami of False Hope. However he is a rebel and he can save a few points of life at instant speed if recruited by the Scout.

Cloudchaser Kestrel – 2/2 flier for three mana is good. Disenchant on a dude is also good (though mind your own isolations). The white making ability is less than stellar but at times you can use him with an Ivory Giant to save some of your men for tapping in the combat step.

D'Avenant Healer – A very flexible man who only suffers because of his prohibitive cost. He makes combat math extra complicated and can essentially shut down an opposing force in multiples.

Magic: The GatheringDetainment Spell – Under no circumstances do I ever want to see people main-decking this card. It may move about but there are not enough activated abilities you really need to worry about to have to play this main.

Divine Congregation – I have two words for you – “SUNS BOUNTY!”

Errant Doomsayers – Again a rebel (do you sense a theme?) so eminently tutor-able, this man is capable of controlling a good few of the creatures out there. The only problem is that he doesn’t stop the huge man that’s beating you for five a turn. Most of the fliers in this set seem to have small tail ends so this can stem the bleeding or tap blockers to allow for a sneaky attack step. Worth having one of but multiples end up superfluous to needs.

Flickering Spirit – I find it difficult to keep mana open for this guy though I see he can be a good blocker. At 2/2 for four mana he is a little above the curve but evasion is evasion and you need someone to punch the damage through.

Foriysian Interceptor – It may have flash but it is still a wall. It may block two creatures but it is still a wall. Don’t play walls.

Fortify – I show no love to this card and maybe I am misunderstanding (considering how many times I have lost to it since). It seems like a bad Rally the Righteous but maybe the flexibility is what makes it good. More often than not you are casting this for +2/+0 for lethal damage and for three mana you can surprise a win out of nowhere. Again something to grab one or two of if you can as white otherwise has minimal tricks.#

Gaze of Justice – Let me break this down:

W – Good cost for removal – makes you think of Swords.
Sorcery – So no sneaky tricks with this then.
Tap three untapped white creatures – Say what? It may seem easy enough but you would be surprised.
Remove target creature from the game – Now THAT is what we are talking about.
Flashback: 5W – Six mana does not come easy but multiple removal is good. Note you also have to tap three white creatures again!

In summary: There is something about this card that makes me think that it should be good but experience so far has found it rather lacklustre. This card invariably comes late and is almost essentially played in mono-white deck. If you are mono-W then pick them up late. If you are not almost purely mono then you will not be able to cast this and remember it’s a sorcery.

Icatian Crier – It’s interesting to think how good this card is with Gaze of Justice. The new spellshapers are almost universally good to awesome and this is no exception. I had an opponent regret his Celestial Crusader when this guy started pumping out 2/2 x2 for me per turn! Not forgetting the madness outlet if you are W/B this guy is solid and gets better with fortify/celestial crusader/gaze of justice. As well as…

Ivory Giant – Again this man really needs almost exclusively white decks but if you can suspend him turn one you have not long to wait until he hits the deck and you get a whole free combat step. Even better if you collect a Momentary Blink or two this guy becomes an absolute house as you can blink him on their turn to lock them out of attacking or blocking. A definite high pick but you need to draft the archetype. As I said earlier you can try and circumvent his “drawback” with a Cloudchaser Kestrel.

Jedit's Dragoons – On the expensive side and no elephant the Dragoons can fill a good defensive role but staving off blockers and regaining some life from early beats. Vigilance adds icing to this not particularly appetizing cake but you will find these come around late and may be worth one to top off your curve.

Momentary Blink – This card looked bland to start with but time has shown it break into Standard as well as limited. Anything good with a come into play (CiP) ability is excellent with this card. In fact this card makes any creature good as it:


Strong in mono-white again with Ivory Giants and Mangara of Corondor to combo with but even better when you can flash it back. A high pick for certain, just try and get something to abuse with it.

Pentarch Ward – So it draws a card, fine. It gives protection from a colour, fine. It costs three mana and is an aura, kinda pants. I’m unexcited by this card though I can see where it might be nice to protect that bomb.

Magic: The GatheringSidewinder Sliver – White is not the strongest of sliver colours and this is also not the strongest of slivers. One drops have a poor history in limited outside of utility bombs like Magus of the Scroll. It is an important lesson to learn that, generally, one drops should not be making it into your deck unless they are really that good. This is not that good.

Temporal Isolation – The block Pacifism variant, flash-i-fism (as I like to call it) is one of the best white commons and the only decent white removal at common. It stops nearly every creature going including Baloths, Akroma and Ephemera – all for the measly cost of two mana. Do not expect to pick this up late.

Watcher Sliver – I have yet to draft the Sliver control deck (white blue with Telekenetic) but I hear this man is solid. Alone a 2/4 creature is good as it dodges strangling soot and can do a good share of defensive duty. Four mana is a little more than I really want to pay for a nearly vanilla creature but I can see that it has a role in a very defensive deck.

Zealot il-Vec – The final white common and another rebel for the chain. At 1/1 for 3, even with evasion, this man seems unspectacular but against red or black decks with lots of x/1 creatures I can see him being average. In multiples or with a Griffin Guide on him I can see this ripping through your opponents creatures / life total. Worth one of in a rebel deck but these will come around late without doubt.

So overall white looks like it has the following plans:


Putting the above into some kind of pick order I would rate the top five (in order):

5) Momentary Blink
4) Castle Raptors
3) Ivory Giant
2) Amrou Scout
1) Temporal Isolation

The isolation wins for being the most flexible of all the cards. The Scout and the Giant pigeonhole you into trying to draft a particular type of deck which can lead to problems. The Raptors are solid and the Blink is annoying to ridiculous depending on what you have to go with it.

A quick note on uncommons for completeness.

Uncommons you want:

Celestial Crusader – He is combat trick, flying beater and (obviously) Crusade all rolled into one efficient package.
Duskrider Perigrine – Evasion, protection, power. A bit costly at full cost but a real beating if he gets suspended early.
Griffin Guide – Put this on any creature turn three and the game is almost certainly yours.
Knight of the Holy Nimbus / Outride en-kor – Both rebels and both awesome.

Uncommons you don’t:

Guscloak Cavalier – 2/2 for five. Yes he has abilities but who cares when he costs five!
Spirit Loop – Yes it is really annoying. No it still is not any good.

So there we have white and a good start to what looks like a series!

Next time: Blue (but you were expecting that).




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