Published on 03/15/2021

Let's Do the Time Spiral Again!

Cranial Translation
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It's about time we went back.
Hiya everyone, and welcome back to Cranial Insertion! Today, we're taking a special look at Magic's latest release, Time Spiral Remastered! Remastered sets have appeared on digital Magic platforms a few times over the years, but this is the first time that we're getting a paper version, and I don't think they could have picked a better block to start out with. While the complexity of the set is pretty high (just due to the sheer number of abilities and keywords that you have to keep track of), I think they did a good job of parsing the block down into a reasonable set to be drafted. And, to mirror the timesthifted sheet in the original Time Spiral set, we have a new timeshifted sheet, but this time, with newer cards "bordershifted" into the old frame. As a long time player, it really brings back memories of the old frame (the good, and the bad).

While we're taking a trip down memory lane, if any questions pop into your head, feel free to send them to us. We may even use your question in a future article! If you have a short question that can fit into 280 characters or less, you can contact us via our Twitter account at @CranialTweet, and longer questions can be sent to us via our e-mail account .

Q: Can I use Saltblast to destroy a Plains?

A: Yep, you can. Lands are colorless, since they don't have a mana cost or anything else setting its color. Even thought a Plains taps for white mana, that doesn't make the Plains a white permanent, so you can destroy an opponent's Plains with your Saltblast.

Q: I cast Big Game Hunter, but when it enters the battlefield, the only creature with a power of 4 or greater in play is my own Cutthroat il-Dal. Do I have to destroy my own creature?

A: You do. The Hunter's triggered ability is not optional - if there's a creature on the battlefield with a power of 4 or greater, you must target and destroy it. If you happen to be the only player who controls a creature with a power of 4 or greater, then casting the Big Game Hunter was likely a bad idea, since you'll end up having to destroy your own creature.

Q: I suspended Phthisis a few turns ago, and I finally removed the last time counter this turn. However, I'm the only player who controls a creature. Do I have to cast it, or can I choose not to cast Phthisis and leave it in exile?

A: You have some bad timing here. When the last time counter is removed, you have to cast the suspended card if able. You can't opt out of casting it - there's no "may" involved here. If you happen to be the only player who controls a creature, you must choose to cast Phthisis targeting that creature.

The only way you could get out of casting Phthisis is if there was a tax to casting the spell (for example, there was a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben in play). You wouldn't be forced to pay the tax to cast the spell, so not paying means that Phthisis stays in exile (and can't be cast on a future turn since it's no longer considered suspended), and that's pretty much the only way you could get out of casting Phthisis.

Q: I have an Ancestral Vision in my graveyard and a Dreadhorde Arcanist in play. If I attack with the Arcanist, can I target and cast the Vision?

A: You can! The Vision doesn't have a mana cost, which makes its converted mana cost zero. The Arcanist has a power of 1, so you can target an instant or sorcery card with a converted mana cost of one or less when it attacks. The Vision fits that description, so you'll be able to cast the Vision with the Arcanist's trigger (and you're casting it immediately, without having to worry about suspending it first, since you're casting it without paying its mana cost).

Q: My opponent has a Keldon Halberdier in exile with one time counter left. When the last time counter is removed, can I respond with Silence to stop them from casting the Halberdier?

A: Yep, you can Silence their suspend spell and stop them from casting it. When the last time counter is removed, a trigger goes on the stack, and when the last time counter is removed, they cast the Halberdier if able. You can respond to that trigger by casting Silence. When the suspend trigger resolves, your opponent won't be able to cast the Halberdier and will be stuck in exile. So you can use Silence to effectively "counter" your opponent's suspend spell by preventing them from casting it.

Q: Does Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir shut down my opponent's suspend spells?

A: Yep, Teferi will completely stop your opponent from casting a spell via suspend. No matter when the last time counter is removed (usually during their upkeep, but it can happen at other times), the opponent would be casting their suspend spell while the triggered ability from suspend is resolving. "In the middle of a triggered ability resolving" is not a time you can normally cast a sorcery. So controlling Teferi means your opponent won't be able to cast any of their suspended spells until they get rid of Teferi.

Wait, are you sure that wasn't originally in Time Spiral?

Q: I have a Courser of Kruphix in play, and the top card of my library is a land, so I play it. There's a second land on top of my library. Can I play that land as well?

A: You can't. The Courser changes where you can play lands from, but it doesn't change how many lands you can play in a turn. Unless you have something else in play that can change the number of lands you can play, you can still only play one land (whether it's from your hand or the top of your library because of Kruphix's ability) each turn.

Q: If I cast Leveler, does that mean I automatically lose the game?

A: Not quite. You don't lose the game because you have an empty library - you lose the game if you try to draw from an empty library. So while playing Leveler won't instantly cause you to lose the game, it will put you on a pretty short clock, since you'll lose the game the next time you try to draw from your (empty) library. Might I suggest that you make sure you have a Laboratory Maniac in play before your next draw so you can win the game instead of losing the game?

Q: I control an Aven Mindcensor. If my opponent's Flagstones of Trokair goes to the graveyard, since they can only look at the top 4 cards of their library, do they only shuffle those four cards, or do they shuffle their entire library?

A: They'll still shuffle their entire library. The Mindcensor just replaces searching the entire library with searching the top four cards of the library instead. It doesn't replace anything else about the search, so they'll end up shuffling their entire library once they're done with the search from the Flagstones, not just the four cards they were allowed to search.

Q: I have a Gray Merchant of Asphodel in my graveyard and a Feldon of the Third Path in play. If I make a copy of the Gray Merchant, will the token contribute anything to devotion?

A: Yes it will. A token that's not a copy of something has no mana cost and won't contribute to devotion. But a token that is a copy of something will also copy the mana cost of that card. While the Gray Merchant here is a token, it's a copy of the Gray Merchant that's in the graveyard, which means that it also copies its mana cost and will contribute two black to your devotion to black for its triggered ability.

Q: My opponent casts Mystic Confluence, choosing to bounce my Mangara of Corondor and draw two cards. In response, I activate Mangara's ability to exile Mangara and my opponent's creature. Will my opponent still draw when the Confluence resolves?

A: They will not draw. With the modes your opponent has chosen, then Confluence only has one target - a target creature. Since that target (Mangara) isn't on the battlefield when the Confluence goes to resolve, all of the Confluence's targets are illegal when it goes to resolve, so the entire spell does nothing and your opponent will not draw any cards.

Q: One of my opponents controls Kaervek the Merciless. Another opponent casts a spell, triggering Kaervek and targeting me with the damage. If I respond to the trigger by sacrificing my Necrotic Sliver to destroy Kaervek, will I take any damage?

A: You'll still take damage like normal. You're free to remove the Kaervek in response to its triggered ability. But removing Kaervek from play won't do anything to the trigger that's already on the stack. That trigger will still resolve like normal and you'll still take the damage. If you don't want to risk taking damage from Kaervek, you need to destroy it before the spell is cast, not in response to the trigger.

Q: If my opponent exiles Simian Spirit Guide from their hand to produce one red mana, can I counter the ability with Stifle?

A: No you cannot. The Spirit Guide has a mana ability. It doesn't use the stack and can't be responded to. Since the Spirit Guide's ability is a mana ability, it doesn't use the stack and you can't target or counter the ability with Stifle.

Turns out there's a lot more slivers in this
set than we thought.

Q: If I have a Hivestone in play, can I activate Sliver Overlord's ability and search my library for any creature card?

A: The Hivestone only affects creatures you control on the battlefield, since it doesn't say "creature cards". While all of your creatures on the battlefield will be slivers, that won't extend to the creature cards in your library, so the Overlord will only be able to find a creature that's naturally a sliver, not a creature that would be a sliver once it's on the battlefield (and affected by Hivestone).

Q: It's my third turn, and I control an Aether Vial with two counters on it. Can I use the Vial to put a Serra Avenger onto the battlefield?

A: Yep, you can. The Avenger's ability says that you can't cast it during one of your first three turns, but it doesn't prevent it from being put onto the battlefield. You'll be able to use the Vial's ability to put the Avenger on the battlefield a little early and dodge its cast restriction.

Q: How many copies of Relentless Rats can I play in a commander deck?

A: Up to 99, if you choose.

By default, commander is a singleton format - outside of basic lands, you can only play one copy of a card in your deck. However, if a card says that you can run additional copies of the card, it overrides the singleton nature of the format. That means you can play up to 99 copies of Relentless Rats in your commander deck - you can't run more, since you need a commander (and Relentless Rats can't be your commander) and you can't have more than 100 cards in your deck in commander. However, while it may be tempting to run 99 Relentless Rats in your deck, you also probably want to make room for at least a few lands (we'll leave it up to the reader to figure out the optimal Swamp to Relentless Rat ratio).

Q: My commander is Ith, High Arcanist. Can I suspend it from the command zone?

A: You can't. Suspend only works if the card with suspend is in your hand. While being your commander lets you cast it from the command zone, it's not a card in your hand, so you can't suspend your commander from the command zone. If you wanted to use suspend, you'd have to get Ith out of your commander zone and into your hand, and then you'd be able to suspend it from your hand.

Q: Can I run Dryad Arbor in any commander deck, or only a green commander deck?

A: You can only run the Arbor in a commander deck if the commander's color identity includes green. The Arbor has a color identity of green because of the green color indicator on its type line (it's that green dot next to the word "Land") and because it's a Forest, and basic land types also influence a card's color identity. If you want to play Dryad Arbor in your commander deck, then your commander's color identity has to include green.

Q: What about Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth? Can I only play that in a black commander deck?

A: Weirdly enough, you can play Urborg in any commander deck you want! While Urborg makes all lands into Swamps in addition to their other types, it's not actually a Swamp itself. Nothing else on Urborg would affect its color identity, so if you really want to play Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth in your mono-white commander deck, you're free to do so (why would you do that, you may ask? Because you're also running Karma and Circle of Protection: White in your deck, of course!).

Q: Since Palace Jailer was printed in Time Spiral Remastered, does that mean that the Jailer is now legal in Modern?

A: It does not. While Time Spiral Remastered might be a flashback to what Time Spiral block felt like, it's not actually changing the legality of any cards. Being printed in Time Spiral Remastered doesn't make the cards legal in any format that they weren't already legal in, so you still cannot play Palace Jailer in modern.

That's all the Time Spiral we have for this week. We'll see you again next week!


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