There’s nothing better in Magic: The Gathering than drawing a card that is just pure, unadulterated bullshit. You know the feeling. You hold the card, you finally get to play the card. Either it gets dealt with immediately, or you hear a massive sigh of exasperation as your opponent wonders how the hell they’re going to deal with this all.
That’s basically the spirit that Wizards of the Coast are hoping to trigger with Time Spiral Remastered, a physical-only set launching on March 19 that is all about drafting. It won’t be available digitally at all, instead only being made available in draft booster packs of 16 cards each.
The set combines cards from the Future Sight, Planar Chaos and Time Spiral sets, and there’s also a Lotus Bloom — basically a less powerful version of the Black Lotus artifact — as a special for booster box sales.
So given that this is a limited-only format, you can expect to pull some hilariously powerful cards with lots of crazy interactions. And to kick things off with this preview, let’s start with one of the biggest beasts of them all.
Tarmogoyf has been one of the most dangerous Green creatures since its release, although it took the community time before they realised just how powerful it was. The card wasn’t even part of the preview rotation when Time Spiral first launched. Stores were selling it for a few bucks, which isn’t much for a brand new mythic.
And it’s not as if Tarmogoyf hadn’t appeared before, of sorts. There was a very similar 5th Edition creature called Lhurgoyf. It was a 2GG creature — so 2 mana more expensive than Tarmogoyf — but it had the exact same characteristics, except it was creature cards instead of “number of card types”.
Mortivore followed a similar theme: a 2BB creature with Tarmogoyf’s exact traits, but you could regenerate it for one. Five coloured “lhurgoyf” beasts were released, all powering up based on the amount of enchantments, sorceries, lands and creatures you could bury in a match. Your graveyard, your opponent’s graveyard, it didn’t matter. Dump stuff into the ocean, and your Big Boy gets even bigger.
So as people started to think a little bit more about how you could maximise the use of these cards, Tarmogoyf’s versatility grew. And people eventually realised — you don’t have to build around Tarmogoyf at all.
As creatures die, lands get nuked, spells and instants go into the graveyard, Tarmogoyf gets bigger and bigger. It’s a 1G beast, but in a few turns it’ll be 4/5, 5/6, maybe even 6/7 or greater. How many other creatures can you play on the second turn that return such good value? Eventually, Tarmogoyf’s value rose tenfold. Because it didn’t matter what type of deck you had, if it was green, then chances are Tarmogoyf would be better than just about any other creature you could think of playing. Mid-range deck? Perfect. Some kind of control deck with a green splash? Tarmogoyf gives you a great amount of board presence. Green rush deck? No problem.
That’s especially the case if you’re in limited formats, where the amount of removal options tend to be pretty rare. Pulling out a Tarmogoyf and just repeatedly clearing the board creates an unstoppable beast. So it’s obvious why Tarmogoyf today still costs around $55, and why Tarmogoyf has been reprinted in Modern Masters sets and was a “box topper” for the Ultimate Masters limited draft. Tarmogoyf is an absolute beast, full stop.
The next card we’ve got to preview is Pendelhaven Elder, a simple little beast that’s especially effective with tokens. A key part is the card text here: the +1/+2 bonus only applies to creatures that are 1/1 when you tap Pendelhaven Elder. So you can’t boost all your creatures, nor can you use it to boost any creatures that were originally 1/1 (but have been juiced up by some other effect or power on the board).
It works well with cards like Deathspore Thallid or Savage Thallid, creatures that generate 1/1 creature tokens each turn. There’s also another special creature later on in this article that the Elder pairs beautifully with, although you’ll have to wait to see that one.
Next up is an equally simple uncommon enchantment, Keen Sense.
This one adds a nice little bit of spice for green: enchant a creature, draw a card when it deals damage. Given that draft decks usually don’t have the same kind of drawing power that you’d get from a regular constructed deck, this can be a handy deck-filler to pull.
Utopia Vow fills a similar role. It’s not the first card you’d want to take, although the “can’t attack or block” text isn’t as major a downside given that you don’t want to be blocking with mana-generating creatures in the first place.
So because of that, it’s easy to see why Utopia Vow was a surprisingly popular draft pick. It gives your draft deck the ability to ramp up more quickly than normal, which is an enormous advantage in this format. Vow doesn’t get more green creatures on the board. It makes other colours more playable, which can be a huge benefit in stopping yourself from being mana screwed.
Llanowar Mentor is another little surprise to boost your ramping capabilities. You’ll have to bin a card to make it work, but the Mentor can turn any dead card in your hand into a much more valuable 1/1 mana machine.
Elvish Mystic isn’t flashy, but there’s no way you wouldn’t want this in your deck if you could run it. There is literally nothing bad about a one-mana creature that generates mana of its own. That’s it.
It’s just good all the time, every time. The Elvish Mystic is basically the modern version of Llanowar Elves, which has been one of the most valuable ramp creatures ever printed in Magic: The Gathering. (Birds of Paradise is still the ultimate one-mana staple, but since BoP isn’t a factor for this set, Elvish Mystic fits just nicely.)
The only downside with Mystic is if you pull it in a pack and you’ve already pulled too many cards from other colours. It still might be worth taking the Mystic anyway just to prevent other players from having it, provided there’s not something better that you can actually play in your deck.
So those are our preview cards for the Time Spiral Remastered set. The block, which comes with 289 cards and a “bonus sheet” with 121 classic and stupidly powerful cards (like Path to Exile), will be out on March 19. As before, this is a physical-only set purely designed for drafting.
So if you want to get hands on with the deck, you’ll need to get some boosters from your local/preferred game store. Happy drafting! (And if you’re looking for something you can play virtually, then you might want to check out Magic Arena and the latest Kaldheim expansion.)