Drafters’ Corner: TDC’s FoA Set Review – Time

Hi everyone! For the next installment of the set reviews, we will be looking at Time cards, and who better to lead the commentary besides the Dinoch-loving, Fire-hating Drifter? When he is not busy raising stray kids or trying to impersonate Oni Ronins, our friendly neighbourhood carnosaur is a frequent sighting at #draft, helping people with their draft picks. The previous set reviews can be found here: Fire.

Draft Rating Scale

For this set, I’ll be using the same rating scale as my previous tier list, which is a slight modification to LSV’s rating scale. The lower half of the list is identical to LSV, while the top half is slightly different to better distinguish between 3.0/3.5/4.0/4.5 tiers.

5.0: Premium bomb, card that consistently dominates the game and is hard to answer. (Accelerated Evolution, Black-Sky Harbinger)
4.5: Bomb, card that usually dominates the game if unanswered. (Unseen Commando, Sky Terror, Paladin Oathbook)
4.0: High impact card that often generate strong value or tempo. (Annihilate, Shogun’s Scepter, Archive Curator)
3.5: Premium playable that pulls you into a color. (Torch, Amber Acolyte, Dark Return)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Brightmace Paladin, Ornate Katana, Jotun Cyclops)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Nocturnal Creeper, Argenport Soldier, Predator’s Instinct)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Teleport, Flashy Duelist, Hipshot)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Rebuke, Aerialist’s Khopesh, Crownwatch Legionnaire)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Pit Fighter, Tinker, Belching Behemoth)
0.5: Mostly unplayable card that is worse than playing an extra sigil in most decks. (Water of Life, Cult Aspirant, Slow)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Mind Link, Temporal Distortion, Azurite Prixis)

Temple Standard

Temple-Standard Average Rating: 2.0

Drifter (2.0)
The weakest of the standards, temple standard is a lot worse than if the tactic were just teleport in a set full of weapons… this is the only standard you cut routinely especially in decks that are higher curve because often a power is just better. Still a fine playable in lower curve decks that care about tempo.
Mgallop (1.5)
Bleh, this card is worse than a power a lot of the time, and usually not worth spending a pick on.
Flash (2.0)
I was initially a lot lower on this card, but after playing with it, I feel that the “drawback” is not a huge deal since it’s still a huge tempo advantage. The “drawback” is also helpful when using it on your own units since there are a lot of powerful weapons in the format, especially the spellcraft ones.

Sandstorm Scarf

Sandstorm-Scarf Average Rating:1.5

Drifter (1.5)
Sandstorm Scarf is quite a solid card in time decks that are weak to fliers, don’t have many of their own fliers and have other ways to win the game such as bigger creatures, stallbreakers like stonescar sneak or cloud of ash, decks that can outvalue or outgrind the opponent or decks that have a solid decking gameplan (such as those with no card draw and nightfall or with Banished Umbren). The card is still not good in the majority of time decks but when it’s good, it can be very good.
Flash (1.0)
This really feels like a Market-only card because the effect is not worth a card in most matches. The only reason to ever maindeck this card is if you are 100% sure that you are going to win the ground, such as in a deck with 4 Wurmcallings or something along those lines.

Entrancer

Entrancer Average Rating: 1.0

Drifter (1.0)
Entrancer has an effect that is generally not very useful and useless later on stapled to a body that presents almost no clock and barely affects the board.
Flash (1.0)
The summon effect is occasionally useful, especially with the whole new array of variety bears, but not enough to justify playing this card in most cases. The main reason to consider this card is if you are in a deck with multiple buffs and weapons but low on good targets.

Jibbering Jackal

Jibbering-Jackal Average Rating: 0.5

Drifter (1.0)
A rather desperate way to enable tribute and a rather desperate way to get value from tricks and weapons but a way nonetheless.
Flash (0.5)
Similar to Rambot, most tributes are just not worth going down a card for. This at least allows you to answer some dangerous x/1 cards, which is why I’m slightly higher on it.
Mgallop (0.5)
There are basically no non-rare tribute payoffs worth playing this card in your deck, because its so bad otherwise. Only if you have something like End of Hostilities or Jawbone Greatsword, then I can see this becoming worth it.

Journey Guide

Journey-Guide Average Rating: 2.0

Drifter (1.5)
Journey guide’s effect is only useful if you draw specifically creatures at points in the curve where it would be useful if they cost 1 less. Unlike initiate of the sands which provides you a lot more options, Journey Guide offers you a very limited increase in options and sometimes no increase at all. Effect is also useless late game. The card is somewhat saved by the fact that it blocks okay but even that, it does not do that well since there are plenty of 3 power units and it cannot block those.
Mgallop (2.0)
A 0/3 for 1 is sort of useful in this format, and this guy works as sort of an ersatz Initiate of the Sands. Those two abilities together mean I’d definitely play this card more often than not.
Isomorphic (2.5)
The difference between this card and Stoneshaker is that 0/3 for 1 is a fine body in this format (I believe better than a 2/2 for 2 in most decks). This is just a reasonable early drop that provides incidental value.

Meditation

Meditation Average Rating: 0.5

Drifter (0.5)
A card that is only really playable with echo cards (specifically Pteriax Hatchlings) or cards that have very powerful enter the battlefield effects (like Predatory Carnosaur), Meditation often finds itself with too few targets in the vast majority of decks.
Mgallop (0.5)
Yeah, I think you need 3 echo cards to really consider this, since it puts you down 2 cards and a bunch of power.

Pathlighter

Pathlighter Average Rating: 3.0

Drifter (3.0)
Pathlighter is a card that’s good to hold until you can tribute it but if you need a direfang spider, it’s perfectly serviceable for that too. If you can tribute it, a 3/3 deadly for 1 is a very solid statline, attacking and blocking well.

Randori

Randori Average Rating: 0.0

Drifter (0.0)
Randori, while a cool card, is far too situational for any deck to want it.

Staff of Speed

Staff-of-Speed Average Rating: 1.5

Drifter (1.5)
The statline on Staff of Speed is quite weak unfortunately and the slow effect does not really do enough to save it. However, it is a perfectly fine filler playable and gets better with cards like Amaran Armadillo.
Flash (1.5)
The main reason to play this card is the presence of an endurance matters theme in the set, with cards like Longhorn Treasurer and Armaran Armadillo.
Mgallop (1.5)
It’s also worth noting that this gives you a free spell for Wurmstone.

Time Flies

Time-Flies Average Rating: 0.5

Drifter (1.0)
Time Flies is a rather dangerous card to play but one that can be worthwhile if you are a time deck with a ton of large creatures and spells and are confident in your ability to go over the top of your opponents.
Flash (0.5)
The main problem with beneficial symmetric effects is that your opponent gets the benefit first. It becomes even worse if they utilize the benefit and then silence/remove Time Flies, which can often just seal the game on the spot.

Training Ground

Training-Ground Average Rating: 3.0

Drifter (2.5)
Training Ground is a solid way to trigger spells matter cards like Wurmstone and inspire cards and is just a solid play in its own right.
Flash (3.0)
With the good selection of Inspire cards in Time, Training ground is a solid inclusion. The scout is a nice bonus, as is the ability to trigger spell matters cards such as Wurmstone and Pyre Elemental.
Mgallop (3.0)
This card just works with basically every synergy in the set. It procs spells matter, it lets you get value off inspire even if it was in your opening hand, and it helps the endurance matters stuff. More importantly tho, if you have it in your opener, its a 2/2 for 2 that scouts.

Amaran Armadillo

Amaran-Armadillo Average Rating: 3.5

Drifter (3.5)
Amaran Armadillo is a lot like Living Example with the upside of endurance (which is a very powerful ability) but the downside of losing the buff if the Armadillo dies or is silenced. However, it is still a very powerful card and comparable to Living Example. One should take it highly.

Illumination Wisp

Illumination-Wisp Average Rating: 3.0

Drifter (3.0)
One of the best common 2 drops, Illumination Wisp denies tribute to your opponent, slowly pecks away at them, is great with wisp synergy and holds weapons extremely well.
Flash (3.0)
Yellow Fourth Tree Elder, need I say more?

Last Rites

Last-Rites Average Rating: 0.5

Drifter (0.5)
I don’t really see Last Rites as playable in most decks (it is mostly just a worse version of Devour since drawing cards is relevant at any point in the game whereas this ability is much better early) but in decks which have a lot of units like grenadins to sac and want fixing, this is one way to do it. It is worth noting that like Devour, this can and should be used as a trick – you can block with a creature then sac it to gain some life or sac it in response to a removal spell.

Learned Herbalist

Learned-Herbalist Average Rating: 3.0

Drifter (3.0)
A surprisingly good card, Learned Herbalist does a lot of small things very well – it fixes your influence, the incidental lifegain can be very useful and adds up over the course of the game (and triggers cards like Umbren Thirster) and it is a solid way to activate spell synergy cards like Wurmstone. It also performs the role of being an okay 2 drop admirably when it needs to.

Living Example

Living-Example Average Rating: 3.5

Drifter (3.5)
Living Example is one of the best time commons, applying a permanent buff to any creatures you draw and providing incremental advantage over the course of the game, better early but still useful late. There aren’t really very many better examples of a 2 drop.

Living Offering

Living-Offering Average Rating: 2.5

Drifter (2.5)
In most formats, Living Offering would be a pretty easy 3 as it would be a fine 2 drop body and have a relevant late game effect while enabling tribute. Unfortunately, in this format, 2 power 2/2s get a lot worse since they enable tribute for your opponent and don’t attack well into walls so Living Offering’s rating takes a small hit as a result. The card is still quite solid though.
Isomorphic (2.5)
If you have a bunch of better silence cards then this goes down in value.

Sandglass Parma

Sandglass-Parma Average Rating: 2.5

Drifter (2.5)
Sandglass Parma gets better with 1 drops but is still a fine turn 3 or turn 5 play, providing ramp and then a major tempo advantage along with quite useful stats. The card gets substantially better with a cards like Oni Ronin since the buff can enable Oni Ronin to attack for longer and Oni Ronin gives you a body to put Parma on on turn 2, allowing you to maximise the effect of the ramp by playing a 4 drop on turn 3.
Flash (2.0)
I am less high on this card because it is often difficult to net the benefit of both the ramp ability (which wants you to play this card early) and the spellcraft ability (which requires you to wait until 5 power). That said, both modes of this card have a decent upside, so I would rarely cut the first copy of this card from my deck.

Teacher of Humility

Teacher-of-Humility Average Rating: 3.0

Drifter (3.0)
Teacher of Humility has a very powerful statline but does not quite make it to 3.5 since it is hard to cast and is often only playable on turns 3 or 4 rather than 2. Disciplinary Weights is quite situational but can be very useful to have and very annoying for your opponents.
Isomorphic (3.5)
T is one of the deepest colors in this format and has most of the influence fixing, so you are often going to run 10+ T sources anyway in T decks.

Amaran Stinger

Amaran-Stinger Average Rating: 3.0

Drifter (3.0)
Amaran Stinger has a solid body, charge can help you push damage and the Scorpion Traps can be useful in a deck that wants to enter the late game – since they go in the top 20 cards, it is much more common to draw them and they can be quite annoying for your opponent.
Mgallop (3.0)
Note: Scorpion traps do trigger your opponent’s spells matter stuff (they also gave people 0 drops in Company of Exiles but that was less relevant). This doesn’t effect the rating, but it is something to consider.

Arcanum Hourglass

Arcanum-Hourglass Average Rating: 0.0

Drifter (0.0)
I don’t think one can make Arcanum Hourglass consistently do enough to make it worth ever putting in a draft deck – the amount of discard and looting you would need for a payoff so mediocre, I can’t imagine ever being worthwhile.

Auralian Merchant

Auralian-Merchant Average Rating: 3.5

Drifter (3.5)
Either the strongest or the second strongest merchant in draft (after the justice one), Auralian Merchant not only gives you access to the market but also provides you ramp to help you cast the card you get from the market. For that reason, if you have an Auralian Merchant, I would suggest you take bad high end like Belching Behemoth much higher and just look to market it since Auralian Merchant makes it much more reachable and you get none of the downside of having that card in your deck.
Isomorphic (4.0)
Clearly the best merchant I think, and in the color with the best situational cards to put in the market. Disjunction and Pack Hunt come to mind as well as huge 7/8-drop monsters like Belching Behemoth.

Deft Strike

Deft-Strike Average Rating: 1.5

Drifter (1.5)
Unfortunately, the warp on Deft Strike is often not very useful – it forces you to use the card at inopportune moments and it costing 3 power means it eats your entire turn. The reason very situational removal like this can be good is the tempo you gain from it and you don’t often gain tempo when it costs 3 power.
Isomorphic (2.0)
This is clunky, but still a removal spell with warp. I don’t think this card is about tempo at all, it’s more about having another answer to annoying fliers or utility units while occasionally getting a clean 1-for-0 with warp.

Gravetender

Gravetender Average Rating: 2.0

Drifter (2.0)
Gravetender is a very powerful card in decks that can enable tribute easily and a very weak one in decks that cannot. Take it higher if you have a bunch of cards like Oni Ronin or dangerous 2 drops which force your opponent to trade with you and don’t play it in decks where you have a bunch of walls and cards that don’t enable tribute easily. I’ve rated it quite lowly since time is not really the ideal colour if you’re desperate to enable tribute – a lot of time’s creatures are naturally good at blocking, not attacking.
Isomorphic (2.0)
It’s worth noting that playing a 3/3 flier on turn 5 or 6 is still quite good, if you can get tribute then.

Initiation Bell

Initiation-Bell Average Rating: 1.5

Drifter (1.5)
Initiation Bell can be quite a solid card in a longer game, providing you value every time you cast a spell. Unfortunately most spells in the format are situational and can’t simply be cast to cycle which makes it weaker in this format than it would’ve been in formats with cards like Levitate. Additionally, you need quite a few triggers off it for it to be worthwhile since 2/2 monks are usually not that useful in the later game (though the card does get much better with Inspire).

Sirocco Elementalist

Sirocco-Elementalist Average Rating: 1.0

Drifter (1.0)
More like a 3 power vanilla 2/2 than anything else, there aren’t enough fliers that you badly want to bounce to make Sirocco Elementalist worth putting in any but the most desperate decks.
Flash (1.0)
This is actually a pretty ok card for the market, since a fair bit of the flying units in this format arises from Changeestik, so bouncing them effectively removes the flying ability. However, it is still too situational for me to consider maindecking this unless I am really desperate.

Watchful Amanera

Watchful-Amanera Average Rating: 3.0

Drifter (3.0)
Watchful Amanera combines great stats with a powerful and useful ability throughout the course of the game – several scouts can easily add up to real card advantage in ditching power you don’t need and I love to have Amanera in my decks, even if I don’t have that many spells.

Wurmcalling

Wurmcalling Average Rating: 4.5

Drifter (4.5)
Wurmcalling is a ridiculous card in a slow format such as this one. It only misses the 5.0 because it’s not good if you’re being pressured by fliers or your opponent has a very aggressive curve. However, the free wins it gives you in the mid game, the late game inevitability it provides and the fact that many decks simply cannot deal with it make it an easy 4.5.

Fierce Mosaraptor

Fierce-Mosaraptor Average Rating: 3.5

Drifter (3.0)
Fierce Mosraptor is a very solid card if you can enable tribute and one of the better tribute payoffs. It suffers a little because you generally have to attack first to enable tribute so the killer doesn’t let you set up better attacks with it but just being a 3/4 for 4 that is often a removal spell is value enough.
Mgallop (3.5)
This is obviously worse than a 3/4 killer for 4, but if you get killer, its still soooo good, because if your opponent makes fair trades, and then post combat you add a decent sized creature and remove one of theres, its incredibly difficult for you to lose the game. Its also very relevant when you’re racing since you can, for example, kill their flier that was exhausted while adding a unit to your board.

Gathering Lights

Gathering-Lights Average Rating: 1.0

Drifter (1.0)
Gathering Lights is a strange card but one that can be useful if you are in strong need of lifegain for lifeforce synergy, if you can make the wisps impactful (Mistress of Light is good for this) or if you are desperate for creatures.

Gnash, Pridemaster

Gnash-Pridemaster Average Rating: 4.0

Drifter (4.0)
Gnash’s ability is mostly irrelevant – it takes specific board states and winning a die roll that you can’t plan around and even then, they can often just quadruple block Gnash since he doesn’t protect himself. However, if you can enable tribute, he is a 4 power 7/7 which is a ridiculous statline and even if you can’t, Striped Araktodon was a fine card in the last format. I do not rate Gnash higher for his ability – I only gave him the rating a card that is often a 4 power 7/7 deserves.

Insatiable Serasaur

Insatiable-Serasaur Average Rating: 4.0

Drifter (4.0)
Insatiable Serasaur can quickly run away with the game even if it takes a considerable investment to do so and sometimes your opponent can just race you. If that’s not the case, it quickly becomes very difficult to deal with and forces them to chump block very quickly.

Lumen Attendant

Lumen-Attendant Average Rating: 3.5

Drifter (3.5)
Lumen Attendant has a powerful late game ability and a relevant creature type and the 1/1 Wisp can buy you a bunch of time. While it’s not the most impressive turn 4 play, that combination of things propels it to a high grade in draft.
Isomorphic (3.5)
In longer games you often want to wait until 7 power so that you can play + activate this without exposing it to removal.

Primeval Plover

Primeval-Plover Average Rating: 2.5

Drifter (2.5)
Plover is a surprisingly solid card – the +1/+2 often allows for unexpected attacks and the body is a fine holder of weapons and a fine blocker in a format riddled with small x/1 fliers.

Sandspout Mirage

Sandspout-Mirage Average Rating: 1.5

Drifter (1.5)
Sandspout Mirage is a card that is often useless but can be a huge blowout and is something your opponents have to consider whenever you leave 4 power up. However, its very situational nature (requiring you to have a bunch of creatures that can eat your opponent’s creatures while it will not help in that regard at all) and poor statline for 4 power make it merely a mirage of a good card.
Flash (2.0)
While I agree that 4 power is a lot to hold up, the nice thing about Sandspout Mirage is that you don’t have to wait for your opponent to finally attack before ambushing it. You can simply hold it up for a turn, and ambush it end of turn if you have other uses for your next turn’s power. I view this card as closer to a grounded, more expensive Dune Phantom that can occasionally turn into a single or multiple entrapments.

Spiteful Lumen

Spiteful-Lumen Average Rating: 2.0

Drifter (2.0)
Spiteful Lumen can be quite solid with the 1/3 flying endurance wisps and with incidental wisps you have lying around but the card is not really worth playing unless you have the capacity to generate those wisps.

Stinging Wind

Stinging-Wind Average Rating: 3.0

Drifter (3.0)
Stinging Wind is bigger than most of the fliers in the format and even attacks for a decent amount too.

Wurmstone

Wurmstone Average Rating: 2.5

Drifter (3.0)
An archetype-defining card by itself, Wurmstone is a powerful early pick and incentivises you to take spells higher. With 8 or 9 spells (and this includes all spellforce weapons, spells from cards like Herbalist and things like snowballs from Jotun Cyclops), the card is a force to be reckoned with and in this format, it’s not actually that hard to pick up that many spells and the payoff for doing so is certainly there – if you can trigger Wurmstone on t5, it dominates the board and is a very fast clock.
Mgallop (2.5)
Card is very strong when it gets there, and it gets there a decent % of the time, but the fail rate is real, and the wurm coming in exhausted also makes this card pretty weak against the faster decks since you have to take turn 4 off, and dont get a blocker even on turn 5. These arent huge concerns, but they’re why I’m on 2.5 instead of 3.

Alhed, Mount Breaker

Alhed-Mount-Breaker Average Rating: 4.5

Drifter (4.5)
Alhed has a gigantic statline, a powerful inspire ability that can win the game by itself even if you only draw one creature off it and additional upside on top of that. One of the best cards in the set.

Pensive Lumen

Pensive-Lumen Average Rating: 3.5

Drifter (3.5)
Pensive Lumen is one of the biggest cards in the format, good even without tribute and forcing double and triple blocks easily with tribute.
Isomorphic (3.5)
It’s also worth noting that this is one of the main tribute enablers in T, since even as a 5/4 this can attack into almost anything. These chain remarkably well into each other for this reason.

Vital Arcana

Vital-Arcana Average Rating: 1.5

Drifter (1.5)
Vital Arcana is much better in a slow format such as this one than it would have been in previous formats. Having 4 life stapled onto the two cards can be quite the boon, helping keep you alive so that you can live to benefit from the card advantage.

Wurmic Chanter

Wurmic-Chanter Average Rating: 1.5

Drifter (1.5)
Wurmic Chanter is a very poor card in a non-aggressive deck which time does not really lend itself to in this format. Not impacting the board at all the turn it comes out, requiring you to pay 10 power split across two turns for a 7/7 Wurm and only being able to attack alongside its Wurm compatriot two turns later, requiring you to activate tribute in order to play it… this combination of factors leads me to rate the card quite lowly. However, it is a lot of value from one card in an aggressive deck, presenting two powerful attackers in one card.

End of Days

End-of-Days Average Rating: 0.0

Drifter (0.0)
I can’t really imagine a deck that would want End of Days – 6 power is not really worth thinning your deck of a few sigils and very few decks will be able to use the extra power when they’ve just spent 6 to cast this.

Mistress of Light

Mistress-of-Light Average Rating: 1.5

Drifter (1.5)
It’s hard to generate the number of wisps necessary to make Mistress of Light really good. However in a deck with Preservers of Dualities (which the card has great synergy with), Mistress of Light can be very powerful. Your average deck that can only produce a few wisps won’t want it, however.

Thundering Kerasaur

Thundering-Kerasaur Average Rating: 3.5

Drifter (3.5)
Thundering Kerasaur is an incredibly powerful card but requiring quadruple time is a huge downside in a format with little fixing. If you are in time and open this card, I suggest you prioritise cards like Seek Power or Herbalist to increase your chances of being able to cast this card early as this card is very very hard to beat once in play, being a 2 for 1 even if they have one of the few removal spells in the format capable of answering it.

Reality Shift

Reality-Shift Average Rating: 1.0

Drifter (1.0)
If Reality Shift can bounce three creatures, it is a powerful enough swing to be worth including. Unfortunately, this is often a lot to ask without a rare like Amaran Armadillo. However, if you have a bunch of Illumination Wisps, Graceful Calligraphers and other endurance card, the card can be a great addition to your deck. I would only look to play this card if I had minimum 7 or 8 endurance creatures though.
Mgallop (1.5)
Combrei has so much incidental endurance in this format, since not only do you have Illumination Wisp, and Graceful Calligrapher, you also have Workshop Tinker and Subterranean Sentry, and that’s 4 commons in set 4 alone. If you get this with 2 endurance units on the board, you are way ahead, but the fail rate is still pretty high.

Subterranean Sentry

Subterranean-Sentry Average Rating: 3.0

Drifter (3.0)
Sentry is the largest card in the format, the trump card that time desperately wants to go over the top of the leaner more aggressive decks. The card plays a remarkable role in both offense and defense, forcing your opponent to chump block it to even be able to attack back.

Royal Guardian

Royal-Guardian Average Rating: 0.0

Drifter (0.0)
10 power is outside the range of most decks, even in a format as slow as this one and this card is not even particularly powerful if you do manage to cast it.

Closing Thoughts

Time has always been the faction of big butts, and this set is no exception, with cards like Subterranean Sentry and Pensive Lumen. Illumination Wisp is also a huge buff to this faction, because it really shores up time’s weakness to cheap, aggressive fliers. Combining that with access to the best fixing (Amber Acolyte and Learned Herbalist), Time is definitely a faction that I won’t hate to be in.

Time also lies at the intersection of 2 subthemes in this format, the Endurance matters (Combrei) and the Wisps synergy (Xenan). While both of these archtypes have some pretty powerful payoffs (Longhorn Treasurer, Mistress of Light), it’s often something that you have to supplement the main game plan, rather than the main game plan itself. These subthemes also add to the depth of drafting Time.

What are your experiences with Time in this format? As always, let me know your thoughts in the reddit thread. Also, stay tuned for the set reviews of the other factions that will be coming out over the course of this week!

Time to go!
Flash2351