Time Walk is an excellent magic card.
You’re lucky to have access to Channelfireball’s amazing free content because without me I don’t think you would have been able to figure that out.
Temporal Mastery is bad.
Ok well I can’t just leave it at that, because it isn’t bad. When I say that what I really mean to say is that it leaves a lot to be desired. This week I was going to write an article about the miracle mechanic but when I started to write *that* article I came up short. You have to be able to evaluate each miracle card on a card-by-card basis since the ability itself can be very powerful or lackluster.
The first thing a person thinks of when they see Temporal Mastery is Time Walk and everybody knows Time Walk is a great magic card. Having played tons of vintage and cube I feel like I have an intimate understanding of what makes Time Walk powerful. One of the reasons Time Walk is so good is because it is very flexible, it is basically never a dead card and it’s good on turn 2 and turn 30. At worst, you can just use it as an Explore to ramp up a mana and cycle it out of your hand for a new card. When Time Walk is used in this way it is not broken at all, it’s not a card that is worthy of having a 7 mana casting cost but can sometimes, maybe, be a two drop if you happen to witness a miracle. And I’d say that close to half the time Time Walk gets cast it is for this use. The other half of its uses Time Walk usually ends the game or very close to it, it’s a spell you sit on for many turns and sculpt the whole game around, sometimes you get an extra attack with it and sometimes you slam something sick onto the board and use Time Walk to untap and protect it or give it haste.
The problem I have with Temporal Mastery is that it doesn’t do any of these things particularly well, since the best possible use for Temporal Mastery is in formats where you can use Ponder and Brainstorm to set up your draw it adds a much more random element to it. A Stoneforge Mystic deck in legacy, despite playing 4 Brainstorms, would never want this card, you can’t use it early to good effect and it does very little for you later in the game, it doesn’t improve any of your bad matchups and doesn’t make any of your good cards or strong hands any better. You would need 6 mana and a Brainstorm for it to be strong with Jace, the Mind Sculptor and if ramping into Jace was a strong play then lots of decks would just play Explore. I understand that once you have Jace in play you can start to use its Brainstorm ability to put Temporal Masteries back in your deck but since when has anyone had trouble closing once they have untapped with Jace in play?
RUG Delver seems like the deck that is most likely to want this card for many reasons. Between Delver of Secrets, Nimble Mongoose, and Tarmogoyf you can usually have a creature in play to make it so you can take advantage of the extra attack phase you get. If it’s bad you can always pitch it to Force of Will, which usually isn’t a huge selling point but it is not totally irrelevant. If there is any deck in Legacy that will use this card, it’s likely to be RUG Delver and I suspect it will cap out at about a 2-of since having this in your opening hand is such a liability. One thing you have to factor in when deckbuilding with this card is that you have to actually take a good card OUT of the Delver deck to put this one in, and one of the strengths of the Delver deck is that basically every card in the deck is a card you love to see in your opening hand, and this card clearly is the opposite. What makes the deck so strong is that it dominates the early turns of the game with cards like Stifle, Daze, Wasteland, and so on.
Another deck that could possibly make use of Temporal Mastery is some kind of combo deck, when using this card in a fair way there is only so much room for abuse. When I said this card was bad that is basically what I was going for, it is very hard to abuse in a fair way. But there is always an outside chance this card is used for something broken, in which case it will be a 4-of and will be the best card in the deck using it. The coolest use I have heard for it yet is Doomsday and doing something silly like playing out a Delver of Secrets, casting Doomsday to setup 4 Temporal Mastery with an Unstable Mutation in there to finish it off. Now it’s hard for me to be sold on this particular idea because using Doomsday to just ‘take 4 turns’ means you need a creature in play to actually kill them with, and if you use Doomsday to win with a creature, why not just use Laboratory Maniac like some combo builds do? I have to admit this was the coolest of the ideas I had heard but I can’t quite grasp how powerful it is overall.
Fireblast is an excellent magic card.
Thunderous Wrath is also an excellent magic card.
This card excites me and I can’t wait to play with it for myself, in limited or constructed. In draft and sealed this is a no brainer, you basically always pick it high and would never cut it from any red deck. The six mana price tag isn’t too steep for an instant that deals 5 and can hit players and if you ever cast it for it’s miracle cost it’s just a huge freeroll. For constructed I have to admit this card is not as powerful as Fireblast, only because it makes less sense to play 4 in every red deck. Fireblast is one of those cards that breaks the rules of magic because it can do something that no other card can do. You may notice that red deck connoisseur Pat Sullivan will always include 4 Fireblast in any legacy burn deck he plays. If I were a betting man I would say he’s about to start including 3 copies of Thunderous Wrath as well.
At the legacy Grand Prix in Indy this year I saw Pat hang up most of his Mountains and opt for a version of burn that still had Lava Spike and Fireblast, but also ran Delver of Secrets, Ponder, and Brainstorm. I don’t know how he did but people have always tried to play burn-style decks with blue as these cards reduce the odds of you getting manaflooded, the only real flaw of the burn deck. In a deck like that with Brainstorm and Ponder I imagine Thunderous Wrath would feel right at home and be an automatic addition to the deck, four even. But even in a normal burn deck you have to evaluate these cards based on their cost to damage ratio. They all play 4 Lava Spike and 0 Shock for a reason. There are many cards that deal three damage for one mana be it Lightning Bolt, Lava Spike, or Chain Lightning. The best cards are the cards that break this rule of being one card for three damage, Fireblast does this very well as do cards like Searing Blaze which can be three damage plus gain X life, X being however much damage a Kird Ape would deal. Smash to Smithereens is a common sideboard card for burn because its again one card that deals three damage, with upside.
The best example of this would be Goblin Guide. It has a very clear downside of being a bad topdeck on a creature filled board or the possibility of dealing 0 damage if its just met by a Swords to Plowshares, but almost all burn players will still play 4 Goblin Guides because it usually takes some bad luck for it to deal less than 4 damage, and it can even runaway with games and deal upwards to 8 or more damage, making it better than any card your deck can produce. This isn’t even accounting for hands with 2 Goblin Guides that just murder people dead in a matter of minutes. The way I see it Thunderous Wrath will be worth the risk of sometimes producing a mulligan the same way Goblin Guide is, except during deckbuilding you can play only 2 or 3 Thunderous Wrath to reduce the likelihood of it being in your opening draw, and once or twice over the course of a tournament you can just spike it off the top of your deck like red players love to do and blow someone out of the water.
Overall I like the new mechanic Miracle. It seems pretty tame in the formats where its effect will be the most backbreaking and where the cards exist to truly make them broken, far more broken stuff is happening already. I can’t realistically see Temporal Mastery doing anything worthwhile in standard since Ponder is the only library manipulation and it isn’t going to do anything to help you get rid of the Mastery stuck in your hand. Plus if you were to Ponder into a Temporal Mastery you would have just been able to topdeck it anyways in a couple turns. Don’t get me wrong, Ponder into it helps, but not as much as it would seem. Using these cards in a fair way is fine with me, and I would play Temporal Mastery in almost all my blue draft decks, since a 7-mana sorcery that takes an extra turn isn’t that far off of playable (though generally a 23rd card I would think), but if you ever spike it on turn 2 or turn 5 its just awesome. I imagine Temporal Mastery is the only card we will have to evaluate in terms of doing something unfair vs doing something fair. I doubt many limited games will be broken wide open by a turn 2 Thunderous Wrath to the face. Often when these cards are topdecked the player will already have enough mana to pay the full price of the spell anyways leaving only a small window on turns 2-3-4-5 where they can do really awesome things. Also who doesn’t love it when games come down to a topdeck? Not much is more exciting than both players leaning in waiting for the top card of someone’s library to be revealed and seal someone’s fate, assuming the rest of the game was exciting up till that point.