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May 31, 2011

12

Time Spiral: Reality Fracture Review (Part 2 of 2)

by Dredd77

Time to playtest, and I feel a most excellent gaming experience is in my future. Reality Fracture had all the look of one of the decks I most enjoy when we broke it down and analysed it. It appears to be intricately built around a well-developed theme, and one that isn’t based solely on creature combat.

Of course, the table wouldn’t be set without the introduction of our villain, and playing the role of spoiler is Jimi. She’s selected Fun with Fungus as her deck of choice, a creature deck with a very novel twist- you grow your own army! We sat down for the usual three, and here are our notes.

Game One

On the play, I open with an Island into a Sage of Epityr, who lets me rearrange the top four cards of my library to suit. Jimi plays a Forest and passes. Next turn I attack with the Sage, then suspend a Keldon Halberdier. Jimi gets on the board with a Thallid Shell-Dweller, an effective wall which also spawns the Saproling tokens her deck is so fond of.

Now turn 3, I attack with my Sage, bluffing a trick, but Jimi’s too canny for that at this stage of the game and blocks. I then ease a Riftwing Cloudskate into the timesteam and pass. The Cloudskate’s earlier suspend means it’s tracking alongside the Halberdier, and both will pop simultaneously. Back to Jimi, she plays a Deathspore Thallid, one of the more obnoxious of the breed. My turn 4 is a blank, so Jimi goes ahead and summons another one for her turn. Still no attack, as trading out for my Sage would be a poor move.

I suspend a second Cloudskate on turn 5. Although I was saving my storm pieces for when my other suspended beaters popped, two Deathspore Thallids are precisely two too many. I drop a Claws of Gix, then Grapeshot the both of them- off to the graveyard they go. Fittingly, Jimi’s turn is a blank. Back to me, the Cloudskate and Halberdier come out from stasis, allowing me to Unsummon Jimi’s Thallid Shell-Dweller. Jimi responds by removing three spore counters from it and popping off a 1/1 Saproling token, but the big blocker is gone. I attack with all three of my creatures in play (the two new ones and the turn-1 Sage), but Jimi picks off the Halberdier with a Sudden Death. Still, she takes 3 and is down to 16. I then take advantage of the storm count (from the suspended creatures) to cast an Empty the Warrens, putting six 1/1 Goblin tokens into play before passing. Over to Jimi, she brings back a Deathspore Thallid with Dread Return, then resummons her Shell-Dweller, leaving her in decent board position once more.

Still, it’s not nearly enough. I swing in with everything. The Shell-Dweller blocks the Sage, and Jimi trades her Saproling token for a Goblin, reducing her damage to 7. She needs answers, and soon. Back to her, she plays another Thallid Shell-Dweller and passes. My second Riftwing Cloudskate exits stasis and bounces her other Shell-Dweller back to hand. I then cast Grapeshot to pick off the Deathspore Thallid, Ground Rift to render her existing Shell-Dweller inert, and swing in for exactly lethal.

Game Two

Jimi begins our second encounter with Pendelhaven, but has no one-drop in hand. I drop an Island and place a Viscerid Deepwalker in suspension. Next turn Jimi adds a Pendelhaven Elder, while I slip both a second Deepwalker as well as a Keldon Halbardier into the timestream.

This time Jimi’s not waiting around for the results. She attacks for 1 with the Elder, then adds a Thallid Germinator. Back to me, I suspend yet another creature, a Riftwing Cloudskate. Although my future is looking great, my present is looking quite vulnerable indeed, and Jimi takes full advantage. She attacks with her Thallid as well as the Elder, using Pendelhaven to pump the latter and take me down to 15. This gets followed up by a Thallid Shell-Dweller before passing. My turn 4 is a blank, so Jimi swings for an additional 4 damage before summoning a Herd Gnarr. Down to 11 life, I’m going to need answers, and soon. Fortunately, once it’s back to me for my half of turn 5, my firsts suspended beastie awakens- the Viscerid Deepwalker. Not much, but hopefully enough as I have no other play on the turn.

It’s now turn 6, and Jimi’s ratcheting up the pressure. She pops a 1/1 Saproling off of her Thallid Germinator, then casts Might of Old Krosa on her Gnarr in the pre-combat main phase. This makes it an 8/8 until end of turn, and more than threat enough for my Deepwalker, who gets chumped. At the end of Jimi’s turn, I add a counter to the Dreadship Reef I’d played last turn. Over to me, it’s time to get busy! A second Deepwalker, a Cloudskate, and a Halberdier all emerge from stasis. The Cloudskate’s bounce ability sends off Jimi’s Thallid Shell-Dweller to open a hole in her defenses, then I swing in for 8 to take her to 12. Then I end with an Empty the Warrens with a storm count of 3, putting eight 1/1 Goblin tokens onto the battlefield.

Next turn, Jimi replays the Shell-Dweller, then adds a Deathspore Thallid. Taking advantage of her Her Gnarr’s size, she sends it in on the attack as a 6/6, forcing me to chump one of my Goblins. She also attacks with a Saproling token, pumped to 2/3 from the Pendelhaven Elder. I block with the Halberdier, and Jimi unsurprisingly sacrifices it to the Deathspore Thallid to kill off the Halberdier anyway. Over to me, I attack with everything, sending in the Cloudskate, the Deepwalker, and seven Goblins. Jimi blocks the Deepwalker with the Shell Dweller, trades the Deathspore Thallid for a Goblin and then kills another with the Thallid Germinator. This sees five Goblins get through, as well as the flying Cloudskate to put Jimi at 5 life. I then add a Coal Stoker and Clockwork Hydra to the field before passing.

Now turn 8, Jimi’s on the ropes and she knows it. She summons a Savage Thallid to help, but it’s not enough. Swinging in for everything, I again have just enough on the board for the win.

Game Three

A quiet first turn for Jimi sees me with the only first-turn play of the game with a suspended Keldon Halberdier. That’s remedied next turn, though, as a Thallid Shell-Dweller hits the table. I follow up by suspending a Riftwing Cloudskate, and just like my deck is beginning to fire off again. A turn-3 Thallid Germinator gives Jimi a little more board presence, while my turn 3 is a blank except for a land drop.

Now turn 4, Jimi attacks for 2 with the Germinator and passes. I suspend the Pardic Dragon, and with a Clockspinning in my hand I’m hopeful I can squeeze him out quickly and end the game in the air, where Jimi is most vulnerable. Next turn, Jimi brings in a Savage Thallid, which adds a time counter to the Dragon, and pops a 1/1 Saproling off of the Shell-Dweller. Over to me, I unsuspend the Halberdier and Cloudskate, bouncing the expensive Savage Thallid back to hand. Swinging in for 6, Jimi goes down to 14. I then cast an Empty the Warrens, giving me a dirty half-dozen Goblins to work with.

Pendelhaven enters the battlefield on turn 6, which I’m quickly learning is a real nuisance in her deck. Jimi pops another 1/1 Saproling from the Germinator, and passes. Over to me, I cast Clockspinning (with buyback) to remove the last time counter off of the Dragon, but Jimi cleverly responds with Feebleness to kill off the Halberdier. Her spell adds another time counter to the Dragon, so my Clockspinning was for naught. I console myself by attacking with my legions for 8. One Gobbo is blocked by the Shell-Dweller, a second dies to the Germinator. Two more trade out with Saprolings (one of which is saved through Jimi’s activation of Pendelhaven), and another is killed when Jimi casts Sprout for a surprise defender. Looking for all the world reminiscent of trench warfare in World War I, one Gobbo manages to stagger through the red zone and hit for damage, adding its meager measure to the Riftwing Cloudskate sailing unmolested overhead. Jimi’s down to 11 life, I’m down to two Gobbos, and still no closer to freeing the Pardic Dragon from its temporal prison.

Now turn 7, Jimi’s only play is a 2-point attack with the Germinator, leaving me at 16 life. Back to me, I finally manage to free the Dragon with a Clockspinning (with buyback) for its last counter, only to see it die to Sudden Death. I attack for 4 with the Cloudskate and my two remaining Gobbos, Jimi blocks one with the Shell-Dweller and takes 3. Next turn, the Shell-Dweller pops a Saproling, then Jimi plays Fallen Ideal on the Germinator to give her some aerial reach. I suspend a Viscerid Deepwalker, then use my remaining mana to buyback a Clockspin on it.

Another Saproling joins the fray on turn 9 as Jimi’s Germinator matures. She attacks with another Saproling for 2 (giving it a Pendelhaven boost) and replays the Savage Thallid. Back to me, I suspend another Riftwing Cloudskate, then Clockspin it to set its time counters to synchronise with the Deepwalker. Next turn, Jimi adds a Deathspore Thallid, then attacks with her Savage Thallid, the enchanted Germinator, and two Saprolings. I block the Saprolings with my Goblins (one Saproling gets a boost from Pendelhaven); I block the Savage Thallid with my Cloudskate to attempt a trade (it doesn’t work- Jimi hits the Thallid with a Strength in Numbers); and let the Germinator through. By the time the dust settles, I’ve taken 11 points of damage and lost three creatures, killing only one of Jimi’s Saprolings in the process- a miserable turn of tide. Still, I’m not dead yet.

Over to me for my turn 10, I cast Clockspinning without buyback to set the suspended Riftwing Cloudskate free, bouncing the Thallid Germinator. Deprived of its target, the Fallen Ideal goes to the graveyard and then returns to Jimi’s hand as well. I play an Empty the Warrens for a foursome of Goblin tokens, then get off a four-point Grapeshot to target the Deathspore Thallid, the Savage Thallid, and one of her two remaining Saprolings. Of course, it doesn’t quite work that way- she sacs both Saprolings to regenerate the Deathspore and Thallid, but at least that’s two less Saprolings to worry about.

Back to Jimi, she sprouts another Saproling from the Shell-Dweller to begin turn 11, then replays the Thallid Germinator. Fallen Ideal comes next, targeting the Savage Thallid this time and making it a 7/3 flyer. She attacks, and I have to chump with my Cloudskate to stay alive. Jimi ends her turn, and my Viscerid Deepwalker emerges from stasis. I play a Ground Rift so that her Germinator and Shell Dweller can’t block, then go all in. It’s not quite enough- Jimi is down to 3 life, but has little trouble dispatching me next turn.

Thoughts & Analysis

Some time ago, when we first began assembling our precon collection, we had a habit of grabbing precons at random and battling them against one another to see which would emerge victorious (something we now structure into the Predon Deck Championships, one of which is going on right now). One of the decks that most impressed me at that time was Future Sight’s Suspended Sentence. The deck’s elegance and intricacy stood it head and shoulders above many, and the feeling of manipulating time was a lot of fun. Reality Fracture is that deck’s direct antecedent, so I was especially curious to see how it functioned.

Suffice it to say, I was not disappointed.

The deck has its flaws, to be certain, not least of which is its inability to effectively defend itself in the early-to-midgame. I’d have especially liked to have seen another Jhoira’s Timebug or two, as it synergises well with the deck and can act as an early deterrent (albeit a somewhat limited one), but even a couple of Tumor Monkeys would help stave off an early rush.

So what works in the deck? Most everything else, to some degree. The intersection of suspend and storm is a fantastic one, and lends the deck a very welcome layer of complexity that doesn’t overwhelm or punish the junior player, but reaps additional reward for those more comfortable with its functioning. Setting up large storm counts while still running the deck effectively is a very delightful tension.

Further, the creatures selected are very solid (though not without suboptimal selections like the Giant Oysters), and the rare selection is excellent. I wasn’t impressed with the Pardic Dragon- it’s a rather frustrating card that might often be better hardcast- but if you’re looking for ways to showcase creative twists to the suspend mechanic at the higher rarity, you could do little better than the pairing of it and the Kraken.

Overall, this is a deck aimed more at players who enjoy engineering intricate mousetraps, then pulling the string when verything’s in place. If that’s you, you could hardly do worse, but if not, it might be better to give this one a miss.

Hits: Superb pairing of mechanics in storm and suspend; solid creature selection; superb rares that showcase intriguing twists on the suspend mechanic; very strong storm suite

Misses: High complexity might leave younger players frustrated; vulnerable in the early game, especially to fast, aggressive decks

FINAL SCORE: 4.60/5.00

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12 Comments Post a comment
  1. troacctid
    May 31 2011

    Both these decks are SO CUTE! On the one hand you have weird time counter shenanigans, and on the other hand you have weird fungus shenanigans, and it’s shenanigans all around, and less than three!

    Also, toldja so on the dragon. You ended up spending what, twelve mana on it? Not much of a discount there. I think that one’s a bit too cute for its own good.

    Reply
    • May 31 2011

      Too right! We’d had the games played already when we posted the first half of the review, and I thought you had the right of it when I read your other comment. What I thought was interesting was the card’s potential to force bad plays just to keep it suspended, causing players to overcommit to the board or use removal rather than hold it… but I think times where it will be effective in that are corner cases. I certainly did wish I had held it and simply hardcast it.

      Reply
  2. Varo
    May 31 2011

    Nice review! Exciting matches, you truly showed the power of this deck here.

    By the way, last time you cast Empty the barrens, shouldn’t you have created 6 tokens instead of 4? Correct me if i’m wrong, but i think it copied itself two times.

    On the other hand, i’m very intrigued by you saying something about Suspended Sentence’s elegance. I bought that deck choosing it above Reality Fracture, but imo, this is better deck by far.

    Maybe we could get Future sight reviews some day :d

    Reply
  3. Scorium
    May 31 2011

    Time Spiral… in my opinion one of the best MTG blocks Wotc has ever done, and this preconstructed deck is one of the reasons. It was the second theme deck I bought, (the third one was the thallid deck), and it really got me into Mtg because of the numerous interactions with nearly every card. Back then, to me every card, even the commons were puzzles to solve and find a deck fof, and I loved it. It’s a shame that these days Wotc prefers to make vanilla commons all over the place, as they said in GDS2. (Sorry for my english)

    Reply
  4. DrJones
    May 31 2011

    I love saprolings, I played a fungus deck in a pauper tournament and it rocked, but outside casual environments they are basically unplayable. In fact, I think green took a big hit in Time Spiral block due to the fungus tribe ruining its constructed chances, and that might have caused WotC to react by printing in Future Sight bombs such as Tarmogoyf and Sprout Swarm. Curiously, in that pauper tournament I also faced a UR suspend/storm deck which I also beat, so I got the same result than you in your review.

    Reply
  5. MezmerEyes36
    May 31 2011

    my friends and i decided to all buy a precon deck and just play casually with each other for a bit. (bored with standard). i proxied a dozen decks before i settled on buying this one haha. its a shame most of the newer sets dont have this level of intricacy anymore.

    Reply
  6. Ben
    May 31 2011

    I love seeing suspend decks at work. I knew a friend who made a suspend deck so complex that he named it the Rube Goldberg Device. And it won, because he orchestrated it like fine music. This deck is similar, but with more of an aggro bent than his deck. It seems pretty fun and interesting to play with, as well as significantly more intricacy than your usual intro pack.

    Reply
  7. web8970
    Jun 1 2011

    Now that Pardic Dragon is a a strange specimen of a win-more-card: When hardcast it is not much of a bargain and when suspended it expects your opponent to do nothing for two turns … However, I had excellent experiences when suspending my Dragon with two Timebugs in play. Either I would “free him from his temporal prison” (as you put it so poetically) immediately or at the opponent’s turn in order to discourage him from attacking.

    On the matchups: Wow, that’s a great reading, having two decks with such different approaches clash. Seems like a bit of bad luck for Thallids in the first two matches, falling prey to control. Nevertheless, it requires some skill to conduct the timing of Reality Fracture in an efficient way … which is obviously given.

    Reply
  8. Stric9
    Jun 1 2011

    The artwork on Clockspinning is some of my favorite. I was never around during the ‘suspend’ mechanic so I had never truly appreciated it. It makes so much more sense in a deck that features it prominently. So intricate with a definite plan in mind very necessary. One of those decks that it makes you want to buy.

    Reply
  9. El Taco
    Jun 4 2011

    Man, intro packs seem like they used to be so much better. I had the Mirrodin ‘Sacrificial BAM’ one when I was about ten, and recently came back to Magic, by purchasing a copy of Deadspread. I was worried my nostalgia for MTG had blinded me to the fact that it was a terrible game.. But no, MtG is still fun, but Deadspread was not.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Time Spiral: Fun with Fungus Review (Part 2 of 2) | Ertai's Lament
  2. 2005-07 Precon Championships: Round 5 and the Leaderboard | Ertai's Lament

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