As Magic has grown, Universes Beyond crossovers have become more and more frequent. We just experienced our first ever Universes Beyond set in the form of Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, and numbers suggest that its going to be the biggest set MTG has ever seen.
As of the time of writing, the next MTG crossover is going to be Doctor Who. Unlike Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, but like the Universes Beyond Warhammer 40K crossover, only has four Commander decks releasing instead of an entire Modern-legal set. Each of these decks have their own unique synergies, highlighting different aspects of the sci-fi classic. As such, three of the new Doctor Who decks showcase unique new mechanics. One of these is Time Travel.
What is Time Travel?
The Timey-Wimey Commander deck being introduced as a part of the Doctor Who crossover in Izzet colors cares a lot about Time Counters. This counter has been left without support for quite some time, but does tie-in to the time traveling themes of the Doctor Who IP nicely.
Because there are different mechanics within the Timey-Wimey deck that want to use Time Counters in slightly different ways, before Time Travel was introduced, there wasn’t really a way for Magic players to synergize and forward all of their Time Counter-related plans at once. Time Travel allows you to do that.
Explaining Time Travel is perhaps best done by quoting our hub detailing everything we currently know about the Doctor Who Crossover:
“To summarize, whenever you Time Travel, it affects every single card you own with a Time Counter, whether they’re Suspended or in play. You can add or take away one Time Counter from the card, which impacts different keywords in different ways. Generally, for example, you may want to take Time Counters away from Suspended spells (unless you want to delay them longer), but you may want to add Time Counters to a card with Vanishing to make it stick around longer.”
In order to explain what Time Travel accomplishes, we need to take a look at other mechanics that interact with Time Counters.
Suspend is, generally, a keyword that allows players to exile cards from their hand. Once in exile, the Suspended card gains a certain number of Time Counters as suggested by the ability that Suspended the spell. At the beginning of each upkeep, a Time Counter is removed. Once they’re all gone, you can cast the Suspended spell for free. There are other ways to Suspend cards. The Tenth Doctor, for example, Suspends cards from the top of your deck.
In the instance of Time Travel, unless you specifically want to delay the casting of these cards, you’ll probably want to remove Time Counters so you can gain access to these cards sooner.
The most popular group of cards this mechanic appears on a group of cards that do not have casting costs. Living End is a good example. This forces the player to Suspend them if they want the cards to be cast since they do not have a mana value.
Competitive formats have found ways around this in the form of Cascade, which treats the mana valueless cards as though they have a mana value of zero. This can bypass the delay caused by Suspend, casting the card immediately. I bring this up to make the point that, most of the time, Suspend cards want to get rid of Time Counters. Time Travel can speed that process up.
Vanishing is the other keyword that interacts with Time Counters. These cards will instead enter the battlefield after they are cast with a number of Time Counters as specified by the number beside the keyword. Like Suspend, a Time Counter vanishes on each of your upkeeps. Once you lose all your Time Counters on a permanent with Vanish, sacrifice it.
Generally, you’ll want to add Time Counters to cards with Vanishing to keep them around longer. In the case of Four Knocks above, adding a Time Counter onto it essentially allows you to draw an extra card. Time Travel can add Time Counters to cards with Vanishing will simultaneously taking them away from cards with Suspend.
Time Travel Isn’t Necessarily Expensive
Effects that Time Travel can be found all over the Timey-Wimey Commander deck. Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey-wimey is a powerful card when set up to be impactful. A two mana card that replaces itself, can potentially cast spells for free and make effects last longer is ridiculous at the right moment.
Cards are Still Being Spoiled
We know now that the Timey-Wimey deck encompasses Time Counters in all forms, so The Tenth Doctor is unlikely to be the only card that we’ll see with Time Travel attached. For now, though, we’ll have to wait and see what other ways players will be able to use this mechanic. If you’re planning on playing with time in Magic: the Gathering, Time Travel may well be your best friend.
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