Time Keeps on Shifting...

Posted in Serious Fun on May 1, 2007

By The Ferrett

This week is Timeshifted Week III, a.k.a "Future-Shifted Week." As a hack writer, I'm contractually obliged to start with some whacky "alternate future" introduction so you know that this is the future!

Hang on, wait a second—lemme try this:

This is Commander Ferrett X-9 of the Onslaught Alliance, tele-beaming the set to you from the deck of USS Nerdiprise....

No, wait. I can't do it. Because the whole point of Timeshifted Week III is that the future is being brought to us. This isn't us living in some crazy future—it's the rocket-cars and Rosie the Robots of times yet to arrive that are coming to our door! It'd be a more appropriate intro to have something like this:

So I was standing in my kitchen, nose-deep in the fridge and hoping to find a container of Chunky Monkey that wasn't terminally freezer-burned, when I heard a voice coming from just behind my left elbow. I turned, and a man in a Borg suit smiled at me. "This is Commander Ferrett X-9 of the Onslaught Alliance," he said. "I'm tele-beaming these words to you from the deck of the USS nerdiprise...."

Or not. Apparently, I can't write science fiction.

Fortunately, even though my short story skills are lacking, I can tell you what Future Sight timeshifted cards are worth looking at in multiplayer. So let's talk about the best of yet to come, shall we?

Aven Mindcensor
Aven Mindcensor

A very nice yet strangely narrow card. Older groups may well be finding it hard to fight against the classic search cards like Demonic Tutor, Vampiric Tutor, and the fetchlands—in addition to the usual array of classic stupidity like Dragonstorm.

The question is, is this card worth it? For one thing, you have to keep three mana open to surprise your opponent (unless you're willing to just throw it out there and let them work around it, which is generally not advised, since the colors that are best at searching have excellent ways of removing it at instant speed). Keeping three mana open, even in multiplayer, hurts.

Even then, it may not necessarily stop your opponent—I know there are tons of time I've Tutored at the end of a turn, only to find the card on the top of my library. (And particularly with Dragonstorm, if there is a Bogardan Hellkite in the top four cards, you can say goodbye to Mister Mindcensor and hello to the rest of the dragons.)

I like this card... Perhaps a little too much. I always envision the perfect time this will stop my opponent dead in his tracks, and downplay the number of times it sits in my hand, waiting sullenly for its opportunity to shine (or, worse, the times it charges proudly onto the playfield and gets removed in response). Thus, I'm gonna say it's worth exploring for multiplayer, but don't bet that it'll stop the landcycling (though it's certainly a fun thing to play in response to Bribery).

Baru, Fist of Krosa

This is a difficult call. In most multiplayer games, Kamahl, Fist of Krosa is far better—he can not only give your guys an automatic trample, but he can destroy people's lands by turning them into 1/1 dudes in response to a Pyroclasm. But he is expensive.

On the other hand, Baru's relevant activated ability costs you nothing—if you're playing green, chances are good you're toting Sakura-Tribe Elders and Kodama's Reaches anyway, which gets you land and bolsters your attack. And particularly if your game is prone to long grinds, the Wurm token can be quite large.

I'll still give the edge to Kamahl—he's more expensive, but if you've got some crazy Gaea's Cradle action going on you can sometimes trigger him twice a turn. But if you're looking for a repeatable Overrun generator (which is one of Green's strongest tricks in multiplayer), Baru's actually not a bad choice for newer decks.

Bitter Ordeal
Bitter Ordeal

Ah, it's a sorcery. That's troublesome. On the other hand, it gives a nice edge to mass land destruction decks—get to seven lands in a ten-player game, play Armageddon (or get to nine and play Boom), and follow it up with a Bitter Ordeal, yanking lands out of everyone's deck to ensure they can't recover.

Nasty. Then again, a Damnation / Bitter Ordeal can do quite the number against creature-light decks—remember, you don't have to target the same player who just lost his army to your card. In many cases, it's a much better call to hit the blue-white player who's eventually going to rip his Akroma, Angel of Wrath than it is to hit the Green Elf guy, who you'll wreck anyway.

This is nice because it scales wonderfully, all for three mana. Every player's going to lose a couple of creatures to your mass removal, which allows you to pick the targets. This has a very potent effect that gets larger in multiplayer.

But you know what's funny in response? Aven Mindcensor. And remember, you can yank as many cards as you like, but sometimes you'll still die to the topdeck. Then again, black's good at handling topdecks.

Bridge From Below

If Bitter Ordeal scaled, this descales. Gosh, if you have three opponents, what are the chances that one of them will have a creature go to the graveyard? How about five? Or ten?

Okay, you could follow this up with Leyline of the Void (though not Planar Void, which works differently because it's triggered). That'd be kind of funny. But that involves drawing the cards in the right order, and you could simply play Zombie Infestation.

Grove of the Burnwillows

This is not a particularly good card in multiplayer. However, I would like to add that it's a perfect fit for my "Have Some Life, Pal!" deck.

Homing Sliver
Homing Sliver

I got about forty bug reports in response to last week's article, and about seven of them were "I can't deal with my opponent's Sliver decks!" (Three of them also said, "We don't play with Damnation or Wrath of God," which might as well be a big sign that says, "SLIVERS WELCOME.")

It's true; Sliver decks are hard to stop once they get rolling, and this will make it even harder. Being able to fetch the Sliver of your choice for a mere three mana and a Sliver in hand gives you access to one hell of a toolbox—get the Slivers you need to do the job at the very moment when you need them most. Of course, to do that consistently, you'll need four Homing Slivers, which reduces the number of relevant Slivers you can have, which makes things a little complex.

But hey. Nobody ever said that building a perfect multiplayer Sliver deck was easy.

(Incidentally, if you want my Bug Fix for "Too many Slivers," I have three words for you: Extinction. Tsabo's Decree.)

Imperial Mask

This is, obviously, tailor-made for group games. Which is in fact awesome; I like that Wizards is slowly sneaking this stuff in.

The politician in me, however, wants to change the definition.

See, in my games, there are all kinds of temporary alliances. We negotiate all kinds of wacky pacts with each other: "Don't attack me for three turns, and I'll take care of that big monster you can't handle." "I can destroy that enchantment if you promise to destroy that creature." "Until Ferrett is dead, we don't attack each other—no, wait, until the turn after Ferrett is dead, because otherwise I'll kill him and you'll attack me into oblivion."

Me? I'd like to have more spells that focus on teammates, and the definition of "teammate" be "whoever I happen to like as the spell resolves." You're working with me? Here, have a token of my affection. You've withdrawn your support? You're not a teammate any more.

It would even be cooler to have spells that keyed off of effects that applied only to your teammates. Why? Because I'd love to have that tension that comes from living under a shield that someone who will eventually be your enemy controls. Sure, he's got that shield up now... But when will he collapse it? You know it's going to come down at the worst time—can you prepare for that?

Alas, we have one non-Silver card that discusses teammates. That's it. But I hope it's the sign of things to come.

Korlash, Heir to Blackblade
Korlash, Heir to Blackblade

You saw it at the prerelease. You know it's good. In fact, it's even better in multiplayer to some extent. But you know what's the coolest thing?

This works with Dakkon Blackblade. They remembered Dakkon Blackblade, one of the coolest legends ever. And I loves me some old-school references, yessiree!

Lymph Sliver

Remember when I said that Slivers were annoyingly hard to stop when they got rolling in group games? Well, this is darned pricey at five mana, but it makes them all even harder to kill.

I found, much to my surprise, that the effects of this stack. Got one Lymph Sliver out? The first 1 damage from each source bounces off of all of them. Have two of them in play? They can shrug off 2 damage. And, of course, ideally you get the quadrifecta and keep all four on your table, at which point you have to do 5 points of damage from one source to do a single point to any one of them.

That's a darned nice effect. The only problem is that it still doesn't stop a Dark Banishing, and it's five mana—which is top-of-the-mana-curve for four-ofs in Sliver decks.

At this point, Slivers are looking a lot like... well, like Magic itself. You now have the tools to make almost any kind of Sliver deck, but you can't fit all the cards into one deck. That said, Lymph Sliver's extremely potent in decks that want to rumble, making green-white decks able to create titans that can go head-to-head with almost anything on the play field.

I have a Ghostway deck packing Loxodon Hierarchs and green-white Slivers that did well in our group for awhile. This may bring it back to life. I'm going to have to experiment to see what goes, or whether another color will make this work better, but I'm thinking this is going to make Sliver beatdown decks just a little more viable in combination with Sinew Sliver, Pulmonic Sliver, and Harmonic Sliver.

Mesmeric Sliver

Aw, yeah. This and Sliver Queen won't get annoying any time soon, I'm sure. Especially not if you combine it with Mana Echoes, turning an already-vexing infinite combo into something that screws your opponents' topdecks in the process. Nossiree! Not irking at all!

Mistmeadow Skulk

I don't actually know whether this is any good. I do know that like most multiplayer groups, our mana curve starts at two and ramps up, so its chances of being protected from a creature are good. But a lot of the removal in multiplayer costs two or less, meaning that it's vulnerable if it gets too uppity... And it's only a 1/1, so it's not that big a threat unless you can pump it with some two-mana spell (or something that provides a global boost).

I like the idea. It's worth trying out. But I suspect that after some experimentation, I'll have to drop this in the "not as good as I'd hoped" pile. But I could be wrong!

Nacatl War-Pride
Nacatl War-Pride

Okay. Want my pick for "most powerful multiplayer Future Sight timeshifted card"? It's this.

Look at it! It scales to match any army! Your opponent has 10,000 Slivers on the field? Well, you have 10,000 3/3 Cat Warriors charging at their face! In some ways, this gets even worse for your opponent when he has more guys out; when he has four 1/1 Goblin tokens out, he can chump block two tokens and still survive. But when there are 10,000 1/1 Goblin tokens out, your opponent is going to lose at least 9,991 of them or he's going to take fatal damage to the face as the 3/3s do twenty-one ugly points.

Of course, the problem is that your opponent may have creatures that are larger than 3/3—and in some games, he may have a lot of them. In that case, you have a couple of fun options:

1) You're playing green. You can boost your War-Pride with any number of Giant Growth effects. So what if your opponent blocks with Akroma? Stonewood Invocation, baby! Or just slap some equipment on him, or give him evasion.

2) Note that Nacatl War-Pride is not legendary. You can have multiple copies out (perhaps one fetched with Wild Pair). Which means if you attack your opponent, he has a very ugly choice to make when double his own army attacks.

3) You can find some way to get rid of a bunch of guys for a good reason, right? There are a lot of decks that like sacrificing creatures before the end of the turn arrives—heck, if you can't kill your opponent with an army, perhaps an Ashnod's Altar will leave him deckless. And a Pandemonium played in the main phase before you attack can do a lot of damage.

Of course, this all depends on your opponent having many creatures. Some groups are removal-happy, so you never get the pleasure. But even if your opponent only has five or six creatures, this allows you to launch a full-out assault and leave your vital creatures at home. Nice.


In most cases, you'd rather have a hard counterspell. But a lot of crazy decks involve cheating out spells by sneaking 'em out with suspend or something. In that case, you might want to look at packing a few of these in as a metagame call.

Seht's Tiger

I dunno. Some idiot once said this might be a good card for multiplayer, but when he was thinking about Standard-legal ways to abuse it he didn't even think of Momentary Blink. Isn't that the best way to recycle kitties? Shouldn't a Magic writer think of these things?

(And in case you're still wondering, yes – I just typed Seth's Tiger once again, even though I started typing with the intent of hammering home S E H T. Damn the scripts I produce for my webcomic!)

Snake Cult Initiation

I remember back in the day, when I tried my damnedest to make a good poison deck. I came close, but there weren't enough guys to make it work—I had Marsh Viper and Fire Whip and Instill Energy, and I got so darned close every game... But someone always stopped the poison damage in time. There just weren't enough poison-dealing bodies to plop the good enchantments down onto.

But now? With Snake Cult Initiation? All I have to do is slap this on a Prodigal Sorceror (or, if you prefer, a Prodigal Pyromancer), and with every damage I do I'll hit them for three poison counters! I—

What's that?

Combat damage only?

Aw, man, forget it. What fun is that?

Spellweaver Volute

I am not a person who notices combos. But I'm sure someone in our group will come up with something loopy around this sooner or later; it's just too cool an effect.

Storm Entity
Storm Entity

Another cool idea... But I'm not sure when you'd need this. Most of the good storm spells are powerful enough that they kill people outright when they trigger (Brain Freeze, Tendrils of Agony, Dragonstorm), and if you're casting enough spells then you probably don't need a large guy coming into play with haste but no trample.

It's suitably awesome from a flavor perspective. But whether it'll serve a purpose in a deck that isn't redundant? Hmmm. Only time will tell, but I think it'll tell us that this card probably isn't worth it.

Still. Worth experimenting with.

Tarox Bladewing

I'm sure many people will try this guy around the block. But remember, he has nothing to recommend him except for his flying and haste—and without his dude-in-hand to boost him, he's actually kinda tiny for his cost.

Still, you can get crazy and boost his power with something, then discard. But there are better dragons out there! For an additional mana, you can get Rorix Bladewing—and he's got more damage on his body for free.

Virulent Sliver

Hmm. Remember what I said about combos with Sliver Queen? Maybe this will prove the one that breaks poison in casual, particularly in combination with Brood Sliver.

Yixlid Jailer

Some people suggested this as a potential patch for graveyard-happy decks. I'm not sure how it'll work, but it definitely shuts down the Incarnations, prevents Eternal Dragon reuse, and prevents a lot of other crazy shenanigans. It's almost certainly worth a slot in my group; how about yours?

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