Time Spiral Remastered Preview
Time Spiral Remastered is fast approaching, which means it's time for preview season. We're extremely happy to be able to bring you not one, but two free previews, courtesy of Wizards. One of these is a card in the main set, and the other is from the "Timeshifted" sheet.
As Time Spiral is all about mucking with time, I'll take a page from its book and start with the end of the story. Click below to see the first preview card, and then you can click here to jump straight to the timeshifted preview . But I do hope you'll stick around after and take a trip through Magic's history with me as I dive into Time Spiral, the Timeshifted sheet, Remaster sets, and the history of the cards in question.
Our first card's story begins many years ago, with the Arabian Nights expansion. Well, actually, it starts even before that, hundreds of years ago, with the "1001 Arabian Nights" collection of stories, which was the inspiration for the set. In one of these stories, the cobbler Ma'ruf discovers a chamber of treasure and a ring containing a djinn, which he and others then use to grant their wishes and attain power and wealth. This is reflected in Arabian Nights with the card Ring of Ma'rûf, which could be used to bring in any card from outside of the game, flavorfully granting your wish for whatever magic would most help you in your current situation.
The Ring was never an oppressively powerful or omnipresent card, though some people do have very fond memories of it. Mostly, costing 5 mana to play, a further 5 mana to activate, and requiring that you give up a draw in order to get the card you wish for meant that it was too clunky to ever be a serious contender.
It did, however, inspire a cycle of cards years later:
Judgment featured a complete cycle of five wishes. Each lets the caster select a card of a certain type from outside of the game. Each was flavored with a djinn granting the wish, which ties back into Ring of Ma'ruf. And the flavor texts all reference a popular trope with djinni - these creatures are powerful, but often chaotic and capricious, and if the wisher is not precise and careful with the wording of their wish, it would be twisted in unexpected ways.
With a sudden influx of cards with this effect, and a desire not to have tournaments defined by players lugging massive binders full of niche effects around Cardboard Carapace-style, tournament rules were devised for these cards. Initially, these wishes (and now, Ring of Ma'ruf as well), in competitive play, had a limitation on what cards they could affect; you could select any card from your sideboard or a card that had been removed from the current game. Later on, during the rules updates of Magic 2010, with the introduction of "exile" as an in-game zone replacing the idea of "removed from the game", the wishes had their functionality altered so that they could only pull from the sideboard in competitive games. Regardless of this change, many of the Wishes have been and continue to be extremely popular in constructed play where they are legal. Burning Wish and Cunning Wish are commonly seen in Legacy, particularly in combo decks like Show and Tell and Storm. Living Wish is a little less common but still sees occasional play. Death Wish has seen periodic Vintage play, particularly while Burning Wish was Restricted, as having 4 cards able to pull a Restricted card out of the sideboard helps mitigate the disadvantage of Restriction. Golden Wish is the only one not to see appreciable play, as the five mana price tag proved to be a bit much. These cards were also very popular in Standard during their tenure there. Psychatog and Mirari's Wake decks often played Cunning Wish. Goblins would run Burning Wish as a way to find flexible removal, discard, or Patriarch's Bidding. Living Wish showed up in several midrange Green/X decks at the time as well.
Despite their popularity, Wizards of the Coast did not re-use Wish effects for some time. Research // Development in Dissension was the next one, and because it shuffled the chosen cards into the library, it was considerably less useful and saw much less play.
But then Time Spiral block came along. Even though it released nearly fifteen years ago, at the time, Magic was already a well-established game with over a decade of history. Time Spiral was a love poem written to the game's long-term players. Nearly every card was delicately crafted to reference previous cards, from the obvious to the obscure.
And thus, Glittering Wish was born. With an art and flavor text clearly calling back to the Judgment cycle of Wishes and a parallel effect grabbing from a new subset of cards. the reference was obvious. But it's the subtle details that really make Time Spiral block shine, and leave hidden gems for players to stumble upon even years later. This fact is the biggest reason why I am absolutely psyched for the Time Spiral Remastered release. Ready to learn something about Glittering Wish that you likely never realized, even if you played when it released? There's a very deliberate reason the card is . Odyssey block was a very quirky one, from a design perspective. The middle set, Torment, was focused specifically around Black as a color. There were fewer Green and White cards than usual, as those were Black's enemy colors, and more Black cards than usual. There were imbalanced cycles of each color with Black, like Possessed Aven/Possessed Barbarian/Possessed CentaurPossessed Nomad and Tainted Field/Tainted Isle/Tainted Peak/Tainted Wood, as well as cards that rewarded playing a lot of Black, like Mutilate, Cabal Coffers, and Nantuko Shade. Judgment, then, balanced this out by swinging the pendulum in the opposite direction. There were more Green and White cards than normal and fewer Black cards than normal, and the set has four different multicolored rares and three uncommon lands, with no other color pair receiving any. So Glittering Wish being as a "missing" piece of a Judgment cycle is extremely deliberate.
As for practical use, Glittering Wish showed up a decent amount in its Standard tenure, most commonly in a deck known as "Project X". This was a creature-based combo list that would run cards like Chord of Calling and Glittering Wish to help set up its pieces, playing out a fair bit like today's Modern Collected Company combo decks do. The core combo is Saffi Eriksdotter + Crypt Champion - cast the Champion without spending , and then target it with Saffi's ability before it dies. It pops back, brings back Saffi, and the loop starts over again. Throw in Essence Warden or Soul Warden to gain infinite life, or Teysa, Orzhov Scion to create infinite 1/1 flying white spirits and exile all opposing creatures. Wish could grab either Saffi or Teysa, as well as removal like Mortify, Putrefy, and Orzhov Pontiff, disruption like Castigate or Glare of Subdual, lifegain from Loxodon Hierarch, additional tutoring in Congregation at Dawn, and other options as needed.
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And Glittering Wish continues to see Modern play to this day, in a couple of different lists. Jeskai Ascendancy combo decks run it as a way to find Ascendancy, increasing the density of their key card or finding flexible answers.
Similarly, Niv-Mizzet Reborn decks run it as a way to find their key card, Niv-Mizzet, or flexible answers for a variety of situations.
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Since Future Sight, Wizards took another substantial break from using Wish effects, showing up only as a one-of splashy effect on Spawnsire of Ulamog in Rise of the Eldrazi for many years. But recent years have seen a resurgence in these effects. Coax from the Blind Eternities in Eldritch Moon was followed shortly thereafter by Mastermind's Acquisition in Rivals of Ixalan, and they've come even closer together since then, with "outside the game" mechanics appearing in nearly every Standard set of the past few years, between Karn, the Great Creator, Vivien, Arkbow Ranger, Fae of Wishes // Granted, the Companion Mechanic, Legion Angel, and The Raven's Warning. Several of these cards (Coax and Karn) even use the original "from exile or outside the game" mechanics that the Wishes played by when they were released.
As Magic: the Gathering Arena moves to be a larger piece of Magic's constructed play, I predict that Wizards will lean even harder into Wish effects, as they make best-of-one gameplay more dynamic, allowing decks to prepare to deal with a diverse field of threats. So I will leave off the discussion on Glittering Wish with my three wishes for Wish cards, going forward:
1) I wish Wizards would revert the Judgment wishes, Ring of Ma'rûf, and Glittering Wish to their original functionality, allowing them to pull from exile in addition to the sideboard. Coax from the Blind Eternities and Karn, the Great Creator have shown that this won't break anything irreparably.
2) I wish that Modern Horizons 2 will feature some combination of reprinted Judgment wishes alongside some new wishes to replace Death Wish and Golden Wish, adding a more robust suite of Wishes to Modern and giving older eternal formats even more options.
3) I wish that the Commander Rules Committee would rethink their current stance on Wish effects in Commander, which is to make them non-functional in that format. As Wizards ramps up the number of cards that interact with outside of the game, it's creating a larger pool of cards that don't work within the framework of the most popular casual format.
Glittering Wish isn't the only card we have to preview today. In addition, we were given a card off of Time Spiral Remastered's Timeshifted sheet.
I'd love to deep dive into the history of Ancient Stirrings, but Cryogen already covered most of the relevant points in his Double Masters Preview Article. To sum up, Ancient Stirrings is a card with a deep history of play, especially in the Modern format, where decks that are heavy on colorless cards have used it as a powerful, deep-digging cantrip card. This has made it a common inclusion in Tron, Various Eldrazi, Affinity/"Robots", Lantern Control, and KCI/Eggs decks throughout Modern's history. It's also very popular in Pauper, and sees occasional Commander play as well.
Instead, I'm going to discuss the Timeshifted sheet and how it drew from Magic's past and is shaping its future.
When Time Spiral originally released, the Timeshifted sheet was a completely groundbreaking idea. It consisted of 121 cards, all from before the 8th Edition/Mirrodin frame was released, and one was included in every pack. These cards spanned Magic's history, adding to the nostalgia theme of the set itself. The reasons for inclusions were wide and varied. Some were included because they tied in mechanically to the themes of the set. Slivers returned, and Spined Sliver was reprinted on the Timeshifted sheet to go along with it. Likewise, Fiery Temper went along with the Madness cards in the main set. Others highlighted old sections of the color pie that the set was revisiting. For instance, blue used to get direct damage effects in cards like Prodigal Sorcerer, Pirate Ship, and Psionic Blast, and in Time Spiral, blue got cards like Psionic Sliver and Fledgling Mawcor. Additionally, in Planar Chaos, we saw some of these effects "corrected" to their proper place in the color pie, like Prodigal Pyromancer. Some cards were chosen for story reasons. Nicol Bolas was Timeshifted, and the Time Spiral story saw Bolas resurrected from his defeat in Legends, which set the stage for him to become one of the biggest bads in the multiverse in the post-Mending era. Cards like Pendelhaven tied in flavorfully and mechanically with other cards in the set like Pendelhaven Elder. Others were printed with updated wording for the first time; the Timeshifted Lord of Atlantis was the only one with the "Merfolk" creature type up until it got a Judge promo in 2018. Power levels ranged from former Standard bombs like Akroma, Angel of Wrath to obvious, joke-level duds like Squire.
The Timeshifted sheet was also Standard-legal, meaning that they are also Modern-legal today. Many of these cards, like Call of the Herd, Avalanche Riders, Dragonstorm, and Mystic Snake were major players in the Time Spiral Standard formats. Others, like The Rack, Lord of Atlantis, Pendelhaven, and Spike Feeder are important role-players in Modern decks.
In addition to the splash these cards made and continue to make in constructed formats, the idea of the Timeshifted sheet has gone on to inspire multiple, significant changes in Magic down the road. Initially, the Timeshifted sheet was supposed to be a complete surprise. This largely went out the window when Adult Swim mistakenly ran an ad for Akroma early. But Wizards would revisit this "surprise older cards" idea with the original Zendikar's "Hidden Treasures". This unadvertised promotion involved very old, previously-printed cards, including things like Black Lotus and original dual lands, being inserted into a small number of first print-run Zendikar packs. This spurred a frenzy of pack opening for this set, which helped make it one of the most popular sets for many, many years. This idea would then be revisited and modified into Zendikar Expeditions in Battle for Zendikar, which in turn became the Masterpiece series with Inventions on Kaladesh and Invocations on Amonkhet. This was then further refined into Showcase cards as of Throne of Eldraine. The idea of "random" reprints, many of which tie into the set in question, in their old frame, is clearly seen in The List cards in set boosters. And Strixhaven Magical Archive, with one special-frame reprint in every Strixhaven booster, is clearly reminiscent of the Timeshifted sheet as well. Maybe Magic would have ended up with many or all of these things without the existence of the Timeshifted sheet, but there's no certainty of that, and the popularity of it definitely paved the way for where Magic is now.
Remastered sets are something very interesting. Up until this point, previous Remastered sets have been online exclusives. Tempest Remastered is an MTG Online set from 2015 that gave those players the opportunity to draft in an environment similar to the original Tempest block, but redeveloped with modern design principles in mind. Amonkhet Remastered and Kaladesh Remastered are two MTG Arena sets released last year, bringing the relevant cards from those sets onto the platform in a push to eventually support the entire Pioneer format. But Time Spiral Remastered is the first paper Remastered set, and it sets a very interesting precedent. Could fan-favorite draft formats like Innistrad return in Remastered form? Is this yet another vehicle to put much-needed reprints into the hands of players? It remains to be seen how Wizards is going to treat these kinds of paper sets in the future, but personally, Time Spiral is one of my favorite blocks of all time and seeing it Remastered brings back all kinds of warm feelings.
The treatment of Timeshifted cards in Time Spiral Remastered is perhaps one of the most interesting things about it. Rather than merely reprinting the old Timeshifted sheet, or selecting a new one from entirely old-frame cards, it appears as though Time Spiral Remastered is taking cards that have never been in the old frame, and reprinting them with it. This includes old-style foiling, with the signature "shooting star" effect across the textbox. Many players have been asking for more old-frame cards for years - there were a few old-frame Judge promos like Dark Confidant, Noble Hierarch, Sword of Fire and Ice, and Sword of Light and Shadow printed many years ago - but Mark Rosewater has maintained for years that it would be very tricky to do with the way sets are printed these days.
So what cards are you hoping to see in the old frame in the new Timeshifted Sheet?