If Time Spiral block were released today, people would be gobsmacked by the impact it has on Modern.
Going through the Time Spiral Remastered (TSR) spoiler has been both a nostalgic joy and an eye-opening experience as a Modern player. There are entire archetypes in Modern that simply would not exist were it not for the time-bending weirdness of Time Spiral block.
As such, the release of Time Spiral Remastered is an exciting time to get into Modern, or to be a current Modern player looking to branch into new decks.
If you fit into either of those categories, this article is for you.
I’d like to take us on a trip through the decks of Modern that are defined by cards that have been reprinted in Time Spiral Remastered, including the new old-border purple-symbol “timeshifted” sheet. Now is a great time to get into any of these decks, as all of the cards we will discuss have just been reprinted, meaning their supply is at a high and their price will be coming down.
So let’s find you a new Modern deck!
Amulet Titan is one of the oldest and most prominent decks in Modern. It is famous for its galaxy brain complexity level and the explosive openings it is capable of. If winning as early as turn two with giant hasty Primeval Titans after solving one of the Millennium Problems sounds like your cup of tea, Amulet Titan might be for you.
This is one deck that simply would not exist without the original Time Spiral block, which provided the critical Summoner’s Pact (aka Primeval Titans 5-8), Tolaria West (aka Summoner’s Pacts 5-8), land clone Vesuva, and the super unfair Pact of Negation. All of these are back in TSR.
However, it’s probably the fancy old-border timeshifted reprints that have caught your attention, with none other than the deck’s namesake—Primeval Titan—returning in gorgeous old-border form. Petition to just call it the Primeval Border?
Death's Shadow Decks
Decks built around Death’s Shadow have been a mainstay of Modern ever since the printing of Fatal Push, which, at the time, even had some calling for Death’s Shadow to be banned. These days, the deck survives in four distinct flavours:
4) 4-colour Death’s Shadow, which is basically the Jund list but splashing blue for Stubborn Denial and some other blue counterspells, such as Disdainful Stroke.
The core of these decks is the same: Death’s Shadow combined with ways to aggressively lower your own life total, with Time Spiral alumnus Street Wraith chief among them, as a 0-mana way to lower your own life total and draw a card. Future Sight—the last set in Time Spiral block—also delivered Magic’s most famous two-drop: Tarmogoyf. Both Street Wraith and Tarmogoyf are back in TSR.
In fancy old-border form, WOTC have given Shadow players a windfall of new toys to play with. The all-stars here Chief among them are Thoughtseize and Dismember, the deck’s premier interaction spells that also lower the controller’s life total. Also showing up are Gurmag Angler and Tasigur, the Golden Fang, for the Grixis players, Monastery Swiftspear for the Rakdos players, Disdainful Stroke for the blue sideboards, and Temur Battle Rage, which appears in most lists as a bit of finishing power.
It’s also worth noting that regular ol’ midrange Jund (not the Shadow version) also benefits from Thoughtseize and Tarmogoyf coming back, and also gets to enjoy a fancy new printing of Bloodbraid Elf.
Ah yes, Modern’s oldest bad guy. If you like being the villain at your local Good Games, the source for your friends to impugn your honour and your ability to add 1+1+1, Tron might be just your flavour. These days, Tron decks show up in two main varieties:
1) Green Tron, which is “all in” on achieving Tron (assembling Urza’s Mine, Urza’s Tower, and Urza’s Power-Plant) on turn 3, with the help of cards like Sylvan Scrying, powered by Time Spiral common Chromatic Star.
2) Eldrazi Tron, which is a combination of a prison deck with four copies of Chalice of the Void and a wishboard of painful lock pieces to access via Karn, the Great Creator, and an Eldrazi aggro deck, using the Tron lands and Eldrazi Temple to power out giant colourless monsters.
Chromatic Star is the only OG Time Spiral card that has powered Tron over the years, but Wizards have gifted Tron players with a wealth of old-bordered goodies on the timeshifted sheet. Green Tron gets access to boomer-bordered Ancient Stirrings, which it uses to find its key cards, and Sylvan Scrying, which it uses to assemble its quick Tron setups, and sideboard heroesall-stars Thragtusk and Nature’s Claim.
Eldrazi Tron players have been given a set of good ol’ brown-bordered artifacts and lands to pimp out their decks. Chalice of the Void—nemesis of reasonable Magic players everywhere—is the headliner here, with wishboard target Sorcerous Spyglass also making an appearance, and the fancy new version of the sixth basic land Wastes rounding things out.
Storm is another of Modern’s oldest and most powerful decks. If you like playing decks that operate like trying to solve a complex puzzle that involves chaining together an unending stream of spells and generating massive piles of mana in the process, this might be for you. I’ve played Storm myself, and can vouch for the massive thrill it gives you when you manage to solve the puzzle and kill your opponent.
Storm is yet another deck that could not exist in Modern without Time Spiral: the only two Modern-legal cards with the Storm mechanic that can act as kill conditions—Grapeshot and Empty the Warrens— were both printed in Time Spiral, and both make a reappearance in TSR.
The timeshifted sheet has also given Storm aficionados plenty of old-border goodies to play with (and Storm players are often old-school players who probably have a greater connection to the old border). Baral, Chief of Compliance is back to give you a massive mana discount on all of your spells, which you can then flashback for double value with Past in Flames, protected by the ever-powerful Remand, while Repeal helps clear the way of hate pieces. I personally can’t wait to get the old-border Storm cards in my hands!
Dredge is another of Modern’s oldest boogeymen. Every so often the Modern meta cycles around to the point where players don’t think they need those Leyline of the Voids in the sideboard, and then Dredge swoops in and steals a tournament.
If you’ are looking for an off-kilter deck that doesn’t play like any other, give Dredge a try. The entire premise of the deck is to dump as much of your own library in your graveyard—using the dredge mechanic on cards like Stinkweed Imp—in order to get cards like Prized Amalgam, Bloodghast, and Conflagrate where they are most useful.
Time Spiral was crucial for Dredge, but in ways that you might not expect. While the Dredge mechanic came from the preceding block (Ravnica: City of Guilds), Time Spiral provided the deck’s big finisher in Conflagrate, and key anti-hate piece Ancient Grudge. Grudge is particularly potent in Dredge since you can simply mill it with your dredgers, then cast it for its flashback cost to take out a problematic artifact on the other side.
The TSR timeshifted sheet contains a number of critical cards for Dredge. Stinkweed Imp is back to represent all the degenerate dredgers and Prized Amalgam (in old-timey swirly gold border) represents all the graveyard critters. Nature’s Claim is a particularly clutch sideboard card to have back for Dredge, since the deck folds so hard to graveyard hate pieces like Leyline of the Void, which the deck also runs sometimes to fight the mirror match.
Ah yes, another old villain. If you don’t have the time for all the fancy shenanigans that many of the decks above get up to and want to just point burn spells at your opponents and get them dead dammit, then look no further.
Burn got one of its key 1-mana deal-3 burn spells from original Time Spiral in Rift Bolt, which makes a reappearance in TSR. A few more of the deck’s key aggressive pieces are showing up in old-border form in Monastery Swiftspear and Lava Spike.
I’d say more about Burn, but they’ve probably already ended the game by now, so why bother?
Bits and Pieces
I have so many more decks to talk about that have benefitted from Time Spiral Remastered that I could probably fill an entire second article. This set is so jam packed with Modern goodness! Rather than give you the full rundown, here’s the Sparknotes version of some other decks to look into:
- Death & Taxes has gained reprints of Aven Mindcensor, Containment Priest, Flickerwisp, Path to Exile, Restoration Angel, and Thraben Inspector.
- Ad Nauseam decks (which are surprisingly not as dead as you might think after the banning of Simian Spirit Guide) have new access to Angel’s Grace, Pact of Negation, Lotus Bloom, and Laboratory Maniac.
- Ux Control decks have new copies of Path to Exile, Dovin’s Veto, Disdainful Stroke, and Damnation.
- Living End gets Living End.
I’m going to go Storm some fools out with some old-border Past in Flames.
Sam Maher has been playing competitive Magic since 2003. In the last two years he has accumulated multiple Grand Prix day 2 appearances, PTQ top 8s, and MCQ top finishes. He is generally happiest when stealing his opponent’s cards with Thief of Sanity and The Scarab God. You can follow him on his Youtube drafting channel Draft Punks and on Twitter @Calm_Mirror.