Greetings all! Welcome back to Market Research, after quite a hiatus.
Today, and for some time yet, I will be analyzing cards from Time factions.
I could talk about Time cards for way longer than anyone should; I will make no secret of the fact that I play Time more than any other faction and I probably enjoy it more than any other faction. However, I do think that Time has a disproportionately high number of playable to powerful cards.
In addition, Time has quite a powerful Merchant: 0/4 +1 Maximum Power affords Time markets a lot of flexibility in their strategy as the Merchant serves triple duty as card selection, blocker, and power ramp. That said, let us begin our categorical analysis of Time Markets.
Reiteration of Categories
- Cards my deck relies on and to which it needs maximum access.
- Powerful answer cards. This includes both generic answers strong against a lot of different cards and narrow answers that solve specific problems.
- Cards that attack from a different angle than my main deck.
A number of Time cards provide engines for powerful ladder and tournament decks. Tome of Repetition, Clockroach, Shepherd’s Horn, Sandstorm Titan, Stirring Sand, Xenan Obelisk, Alhed Mount Breaker, Divining Rod, and Temporal Distortion are all archetype-defining (except Titan, but Darude is the exception).
Also very important to note is the natural curve of Auralian Merchant into Eternity Core into 6 or 7 drop. This curve drives a couple of different decks in the current meta (Martyr’s Chains and Temporal Distortion decks, among others).
I would also be remiss if I did not mention the power of Auralian Merchant to drive Vodacombo entirely on its own, accessing Vodakhan himself alongside Talir, Who Sees Beyond and Voice of the Speaker (turns out, Echo is really good.)
In addition, there are plenty of other Time cards that might drive a brew or need a better metagame to shine—Ancient Bauble for Lifeforce, Amaran Armadillo and Arcanum Hourglass for Endurance tribal decks, Vault of the Praxis and Sentinel's Might for token decks, and Battle-Tested Stranger for stranger decks.
I would also like to give honorable Category 1 mentions to Time Flies, Accelerated Impact, and Gear Master as cards that could prove to be extremely strong if new cards support them (along the lines of Ambush inspire, the equivalent of Rally for health, and cheap sentinels.)
Mono Time brings a wide array of strong answers to the table as well.
Infinite Hourglass and Sandstorm Scarf are common inclusions in Time markets because they are extremely efficient answers to specific problems—Permafrost or other stuns and tall and/or wide fliers, respectively.
Twilight Hunt, Xenan Initiation, and Scorpion Wasp are all rock solid generic removal options to include in your Market, and Striking Snake Formation can even act as a board clear effect if your deck generates relatively large or deadly units on the regular.
Many decks today and throughout Eternal’s history have relied on powerful relics that serve as engines—Disjunction and Passage of Eons handle them nicely. Disjunction is also a fine answer to the Red Canyon Smuggler à Deepforged Plate plan of many aggressive Rakano decks, and it even recurs your own vital attachments such as Mask of Torment!
Time is also the faction best-suited to silencing your opponent's problematic units. It offers Silence (the card) and Talir’s Intervention for efficiency, and Archive Curator to help block. Passage of Eons is even an option if you anticipating needing a relic sweeper for some match-ups.
If aggression is a problem, Auralian Merchant can fetch up a veritable plethora of life gain options, from Lunar Magus and Lumen Defender to Devoted Theurge and Ancient Bauble (or more likely, Mesmerized Moth).
Lastly, a couple of dark horse options for answers to include in your Time market: Hesitate or Slow if you need to buy tempo against Harsh Rule, and Predatory Carnosaur if you need single-target removal that provides an enormous unit.
As for Category 3, Time has fewer options than the other categories, but I think it compares favorably to other factions as far as quality goes.
As far as the ever-present “late game for your aggressive deck,” Time’s options are limited. Auralian Merchant does not fit particularly well into most aggressive decks, however, there are a couple of reasonable choices—Xenan Obelisk and Copper Conduit can each give you a push through opposing blockers.
A common inclusion in control markets, and one of my personal favorites, is Lumen Reclaimer. A single copy of the card virtually guarantees you never lose to your deck running out of cards (mill), barring Avigraft or something equally weird. Reclaimer even recycles all the 4/7s and 3/6 fliers in Chalice.dek!
Waystone Infuser is a great way for midrange decks to gain a lot of card advantage in the mirror and in control matchups. Amaran Stinger can be included in control markets for the same. Actually, that card is probably underrated, because it has incredible value against unit-based midrange (read: 4-cost Vara decks, Rakano Plate, anything with Moonstone Vanguard) and provides that touch of pressure that can often turn a control mirror by forcing the opponent to act first.
Other interesting options I have seen occasionally include Wandering Wisp to go tall in Praxis Tokens and other go-wide decks, and Venom Rider to provide removal in Chalice and Temporal for when you need not to Harsh Rule.
Lastly, I would like to mention some cards that have hitherto seen little to no play, but which could be interesting options if you happen to need the specific angles they can provide.
Amber Ring and Initiation Bell both provide a stream of units, though in different strategies. Amber Ring has some synergy with other cards that can have high ceilings, namely Evelina, Valley Searcher, Stirring Sand, and Mysterium Orb, not to mention Ask for Directions and Dig Site. Initiation Bell could potentially provide an enormous number of great Crystalline Chalice activators, Students, or even just blockers to stall while you repeatedly Channel the Tempest somebody’s face.
Hall of Lost Kings is a sweet build-around that never really went anywhere in Ranked, but it could be a huge tempo swing for the normally value-based Mask of Torment decks. [Editor's note: I am so offended that you don't remember Ends Justify the Memes, but recently I've also seen LocoPojo's King's Oath in ranked.] And finally, Talir Unbound is… awesome, but I’m not sure what the heck to do with her and I wanted to mention her somewhere in this article.
In summary, the Time faction offers many excellent Market options in all three categories.
Even accounting for my personal bias, the fact that there are both efficient options and high-value options in each group means Auralian Merchant gets pretty high marks. The 0/4 body does limit Auralian Merchant’s ability to slot in to aggressive decks, but +1 Maximum Power is just incredibly valuable.
Even with Smugglers to compete, Auralian Merchant is still finding its way into decks both in tournaments and on ladder because Time is such a flexible faction and the power boost is really valuable.
Next time, we'll examine the multifaction options presented by Auralian Merchant, specifically in Praxis and Combrei. Until then, may you always draw your Merchants!