Time Spiral Review for Legacy

I am honored and excited that I was asked to write this review. If ever there was a set that was bound to pique the interest of a Legacy player, this would be it. Step on in for a peek as the new class takes aim at Legacy.

Build Me an Army Worthy of Mordor

Time Spiral is clearly the evil work of players-turned-designers with a heavy sense of nostalgia woven into the blood and bone of the set. And that is of keen interest to a large segment of the Legacy community. Many of the cards that inspired these new ones are in common use in Legacy decks even now. Just the same, much of the hoopla surrounding cards with big names is unjustified in the playability sense. Time will show that the uncastables specifically are fair and balanced unlike their namesake predecessors.

I would like to mention that Legacy deckbuilding is best pursued as a long-term goal. Legacy players are usually part collector out of necessity. And since selling off last year's hot cards in favor of this year's is a poor strategy for obvious reasons, new cards should be viewed from a different angle than, say, Standard deck construction demands. You will need to keep an eye on the likelihood that a card will ever impact Legacy - not just what is hot.

To facilitate this perspective, I am simply going to list the cards with a brief description of their place in Legacy where applicable and include an indication of my opinion on their long-term value. That part is subjective, as it is not a monetary value I am speaking of. Rather, I mean the likelihood that a card will ever be suitable for a Legacy deck. Take heed, there is purposely no mention of the Timeshifted cards. This should be obvious, but I am mentioning it anyway.

Top Picks:

Academy Ruins

The color pie gives blue certain
privileges with regard to artifacts.
This one is a broad one.

Volrath's Stronghold does a wonderful job of making creatures available from the graveyard. But Black has innumerable ways of doing that, many of which move the creatures directly into play. Blue is not a strong color for graveyard manipulation. Reconstruction and Relearn have their uses, but nothing as painless as this card has ever been printed for Blue. It can put a Threshold deck in what is essentially a Crypt lock, keeping its guys at 1/1 forever. It can recur that game defining Pithing Needle once the opponent dispatches it. It could be even better used with Phyrexian Furnace since you get to draw a card in the exchange.

Trouble with Goblins? Pack The Disk or Engineered Explosives with the ability to recall them at any time. It gets certain lands back, too. And creatures. And these as well.

Blue Stax, anyone?

Oh, and it's another card to make Predict more reliable.

Make no mistake, this will be a card you consider time and time again. It may not find its way into every deck, but it should be in any first build that has both Blue and artifacts. This is the kind of card that you have to replace after three years because you wore them out despite the sleeves. It's another solid contribution to decks named "Academy".

Ancient Grudge

While close to Ray of Revelation in function, it has wider uses and is in better colors for the job. It works just swell with GR Life from the Loam decks, filling a role that has been somewhat bothersome until now. Unless Solitary Confinement or Survival of the Fittest becomes a major force, this card will be a staple.

Harmonic Sliver

This is such a great defensive card. Forget using it with other Slivers, it is a great card on its own. Any deck that wants a creature to hose enchantments and artifacts for these colors now has the best of the bunch by a long shot. It will never be the star of a deck, but will fill its role nicely often.

Magus of the Jar

It has sleaze written all over it. I plan to try it out in a Sneak Attack build full of Red mana acceleration for full potency. I figure R for a new hand is a decent deal. Wizards has tread lightly on the draw-seven ability for a few years now. This addition is the boldest card on that front since, well, Memory Jar. Everyone suspects this card is good. They are right.

Mangara of Corondor

He is a diamond in a bit of rough. For White to have this ability is pretty amazing. For Wizards to print this guy with its removal as part of the resolution (and not a cost) is absurd. You can actually tap him to remove a permanent and untap him with his ability on the stack (perhaps using Quirion Ranger) only to tap him again. You could also return him to your hand using Karakas before resolution to save him. Or simply do both for maximum potency.

Sudden Death

This is probably the best of the split second cards. It kills Wild Mongrels, Psychatogs, Siege-Gang Commanders, Werebears, Arcbound Ravagers, Ravenous Baloths, Mogg Fanatics, and Mother of Runes all with no shenanigans. This is new territory for these creature cards and reflects Wizards' growing forays into hosing activated abilities and counterspells. It is causing players to have to subtly change the way they think about the game. Bravo, boys.

The only reason I can see for Legacy players to pass over this one is the fact that it does not cost 1. When the opponent can drop a creature on turn one that will seal the game on its first attack, you have to seriously consider how much you really need a removal spell that cannot not prevent it. Black still does not have a satisfactory card to do that.

Tivadar of Thorn

This is my top choice to make White Weenie not suck in Legacy. Usually called Angel Stompy, these decks usually (not always) beat Goblins, and are only in a position to compete in a Goblin-heavy metagame. Tivadar is quite the addition and at the right price. The only problem I see with him is his legendary status since Goblins can't get rid of him once he is in play. So multiples could clog your hand unless you don't mind them dying to the Legend Rule.

However, he could also be a good guy to bring in for any deck that uses Aether Vial as excellent defense versus Goblins including other Goblin decks for the mirror. Most Goblin decks splash White now anyway, and that would be a spectacular thing to see.

But Also Get:

Ancestral Vision - Likely the best of the uncastables. A bad card in topdeck mode to be sure, but this one is a control player's best friend up to turn 3 or so. This card could easily replace Standstill as the number one undercost draw spell in Legacy. They fill the same role in essence, but this one does not have the design space drawbacks.

Children of Korlis - These are so cool, you are certain to try them again and again, especially in sideboards. Like so many good cards, this one does not completely hose much of anything. Rather, it is a tool against a wide range of decks. Don't forget that it is a rebel, which means you can fetch it into play as an instant with something like Ramosian Sergeant. And it certainly does completely hose some decks, such as Tendrils of Agony poster child IGGy Pop.

Chromatic Star - Replace your Chromatic Spheres and Terrarions with these. You can sacrifice them to Ravager and still get the card.

Conflagrate - This card is a combo card. There WILL be a deck that uses this as its primary kill condition eventually. Mark Rosewater speaks of cards that transform one resource (cards in hand in this case) into another (direct damage) as combo enablers. Well, this one works without even being drawn.

Deep-Sea Kraken - Superb finisher for Blue. It will be a menacing presence while the counters inevitably come off.

Flagstones of Trokair - This looks like it has about 900 uses from Stax tricks to Wasteland protection. And don't forget that you can grab something like Savannah when it kicks the bucket.

Fortune Thief - Ali from Cairo is an unplayed card, but you should add one of these to your collection just the same because it is more versatile and may just save your life.

Grapeshot - This seems to be the best of the new Storm cards. Decks like Kobold Combo have had to include Blue for access to Brain Freeze and nothing else. Not any more. Pick these up.

Liege of the Pit - This is very playable. The morph ability is perfect on a card like this and it hits very hard. Even if you never pay the upkeep, you can stay seven ahead of the opponent in the damage race unlike the original.

Magus of the Candelabra - Very good. Look for major opportunities for this with Gaea's Cradle. With just this guy, a Priest of Titania, and Quirion Ranger in play, and Gaea's Cradle and a Forest for land, you can make GGGGGGGGGGG. That's on turn three.

Magus of the Disk - Pretty good. The 2/4 body for four is perfect for a critter you want to survive a turn. And Legacy has the ability to circumvent the roadblocks to using it the turn it hits play.

Nightshade Assassin - This chick is often a three-for-one for two mana. It just doesn't get better than that.

Pit Keeper - Cheap card advantage with no drawback deserves some love. And this is a great card to give dredging decks the kind of boost they need to climb into the upper tiers.

Restore Balance - Have no illusions, this is not a broken card. But it could prove handy just the same. Its ability is just so one-sided that it may still find a use. Get it if it's cheap. If there actually is anything to this card it may take a while for players to find the best fit for it.

Rift Bolt - Good candidate for Burn, a bad but popular deck.

Serra Avenger - Not amazing, but with Vial and a decent weenie entourage, it's solid. You will likely have plenty of other cheap creatures to bring out on turns two and three anyhow.

Smallpox - Far more versatile than Pox. I like this card a lot, especially when you can sacrifice Flagstones of Trokair to fetch a Scrubland.

Stuffy Doll - I believe that a card in Legacy that costs five or more mana (which you intend to hardcast) only deserves a spot in a deck if it will seal the game for you. This card may be capable of just that. I really don't know, but it has potential in both control and combo decks. And no one says you need to hard cast it anyway.

Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir - Love it. Teferi gets in the opponent's way while enabling you, is above Lightning Bolt range, and is almost reasonably cost. Nice. Specifically, I can see him making a splash in the counter mirror.

Wheel of Fate - It may not have the raw power of its predecessor, but card advantage is such a big deal that it may still prove valuable.

And Pass On:

Angel's Grace - Way overhyped. Playing not to lose is a sure way to do so. It is not better than current options for sideboard slots and doesn't help in any meaningful way against any particular deck.

Cancel - You will never use it. There are just too many better counterspells in Legacy.

Careful Consideration - Too many better options. Are you really going to choose this over Fact or Fiction? Gifts Ungiven?

Getting better, but Sprite Noble
still doesn't affect itself and still
has to tap to get the full effect.

Drifter il-Dal - Look, almost a Spindrift Drake - Ignore this one.

Hypergenesis - Not as good as Eureka, a currently unused card. Skip this one too.

Knight of the Holy Nimbus - In Standard it may fly but in Legacy it is trash.

Lotus Bloom - Just not a good card for such a fast format. The pertinent combo decks that could possibly want this will turn their noses up at it because it must be used far in advance and dilutes the ability to go off on turns one and two.

Magus of the Scroll - Decent, but not as good as either Grim Lavamancer or Cursed Scroll. Trade these to the drooling Standard players.

Sprite Noble - Why not just make it not suck?

Truth or Tale - Interesting, but generally not as good as Impulse so don't bother.

Vesuva - It will never be what you need it to be. It comes into play tapped, and is just awful when you are short a color. Legacy has access to the best lands ever printed, so this market is all sealed up.

Where to End - Ah Yes! Concerning Hobbits.

Well, despite some stellar effects upon resolution, the delayed uncastables have most of the wind taken out of their sails. Be sure to pick up as many of the Slivers as you can. They are becoming an empire. With so many out there, you should at least get quite a bit of joy experimenting with them. The Magi look very interesting and mostly balanced as well while pushing the envelope at the same time - the hallmark of good innovation in a set. I certainly give Time Spiral a thumbs up for Legacy. While unlikely to add anything dramatic to existing deck archetypes, it will certainly add its fair share of playable cards to the pool, and may spawn a few new decks.


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