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June 8, 2011


Time Spiral: Sliver Evolution Review (Part 2 of 2)

by Dredd77

Having reached our fourth and final playtest of Time Spiral, today we’ll be taking Sliver Evolution into battle. A heavily aggressive deck capable of random bursts of obscene violence, our opponent is Hope’s Crusaders. Piloted by Jimi, they’re going to need more than hope to withstand the carnage and onslaught to follow. Will Jimi be able to take her mono-White deck to victory, or will the swarm overcome all that stand before it? Here are our notes from this epic battle.

Game One

Jimi leads off with a formidable play- a Brass Gnat– while I match with a Sidewinder Sliver. Next turn sees her continue with Errant Doomsayers after a 1-point attack. I counter with an attack of my own, then add a Quilled Sliver to the budding swarm. Jimi then plops down the unfortunate Sarpadian Empires, Vol. VII, which is made even more unfortunate as my turn-3 addition is a Harmonic Sliver. Jimi’s Doomsayer taps down my Sidewinder, so I’m again only in for 1 damage. Still, things are looking very good for the Slivers.

Now turn 4, Jimi lands a Cloudchaser Kestrel. For my part, I add a second Sidewinder Sliver alongside a Spined Sliver, meaning that my 1/1’s will now trade with any 4/4’s… brutal. Hope’s Crusaders is the deck that’s supposed to be giving the opponent’s blockers fits, but it looks like I’m claiming that distinction for myself. Thanks to the Harmonic Sliver, Jimi’s Brass Gnat is smashed when my first Sliver enters the battlefield. The Doomsayer locks down a Sliver (as it will most every turn), but I still get in for 2. Jimi’s now at 16, I’m at 19. A good start.

Next turn, Jimi attacks gamely with the Kestrel, which can only be worried as it flies over the red zone at the sight of the Slivers swarming beneath it. She then plays an Outrider en-Kor and ends her turn. Back to me, I drop the hammer with a Bonesplitter Sliver, attacking for 12. Jimi chumps the Outrider and ends up taking 9, leaving her at 7.

Deliverance is close at hand, though, as she plays a Divine Congregation for 12 life. It proves short-lived, though, as I press the attack for 16 damage. She chumps the Bonesplitter with the Kestrel, so I add in a Strength in Numbers on an unblocked Sliver. When the dust settles, she’s at 2 life. She draws a Celestial Crusader, and scoops.

Game Two

Another game, another turn-1 Brass Gnat, another turn-1 Sidewinder: deja vu all over again! Next turn, Jimi catches a break with an Icatian Javelineer, a card well-positioned in the early game against Sliver Evolution. She flits in for 1 with the Gnat, then passes. I counter for 1, then follow up with the Quilled Sliver.

Now turn 3, Jimi uses the Javelineer to pick off my Sidewinder, then follows up with a Zhalfirin Commander. Over to me, I have little to offer my team besides a Spirit Loop on my Quilled Sliver. Next turn Jimi begins the attacks, trotting out with the Commander. I use the Quilled to ping it on the way in, which eases the damage by half with the Spirit Loop. Now tied at 19 apiece, Jimi passes. My turn is a blank.

Jimi opts to untap the Gnat during her upkeep on turn 5, then swings in with the Commander again for 2 (reduced to 1 after my Quilled pings it). I finally land that elusive first Forest and use it to deploy a Harmonic Sliver, blasting the Gnat out of the sky. My problems only increase, though, with Jimi’s turn-6 Pentarch Paladin after another attack. Wanting to kill my Sliver on the board as well as any Gemhides I might land, Jimi names Green. As luck has it, guess which colour dominates my hand? Might Sliver, I hardly knew ye! My turn is another blank, and I’m in serious trouble.

Now turn 7, Jimi adds a Celestial Crusader and the beats begin in earnest- that my own White Slivers get the bonus as well is little consolation. Perhaps it’s my sense of impending doom that causes me to miss the ability to pick off the Zhalfirin Crusader with pings from the Slivers, but it’s not one to affect the inevitable outcome. Jimi kills off my Harmonic Sliver with the Paladin, then adds it to her offensive. My two Slivers aren’t enough to stop the onslaught, and by the time I finally add an underwhelming Venser’s Sliver, Jimi’s Gaze of Justice and Gustcloak Cavalier all but wrap up the match.

Game Three

My turn to be on the play, I lead with a Terramorphic Expanse, sac’ing it to grab a Mountain. Jimi again starts off with the Icatian Javelineers. Next turn I deploy my first Sliver- the Quilled- and pass. Jimi picks it off with the Javelineers, then follows with a Benalish Cavalry.

A Spined Sliver touches down on turn 3, but I have nothing else. Jimi draws first blood with a 2-point attack, then adds a Knight of the Holy Nimbus. Back to me, I play a 4th land- a Gemstone Mine– and tap out to play the Bonesplitter Sliver- a welcome addition. Jimi attacks in again for 2 after playing a Cavalry Master. I’m now at 16 life.

Now turn 5, I hit my fifth land drop in a row and am rewarded with a Pulmonic Sliver. With all my Slivers flying, I slice in hard for 8, putting Jimi on a one-turn clock. She draws nothing, and concedes.

Thoughts & Analysis

This match offered a very diverse spectrum of outcomes which reveal quite a bit about this deck. The first match was the kind of beatdown the Slivers are more than capable of every time you play them. If you think Game One was tough, you ought to have seen the dreamcrush I laid on Jimi in the friendly, a turn-5 kill swinging for 22. Of course, that brings us to Game Two, the kind of faltering start without focus or drive that the Slivers are also more than capable of each game.

Game Three resembles Game One in that it was a hammering beatdown, but it would be fair to say instead that it was won by dropping a bomb rather than a steady takeover of the red zone. Sliver Evolution is capable of any of these outcomes, and you’ll never quite know what you’re in for. With some Slivers being generally better than others, much of the deck’s performance is draw-dependent- all the more so for being a three-colour deck with few nonbasic lands.

While the “flood the red zone” strategy can blitz an opponent before they have a chance to react, by the same token if the Slivers don’t tip the balance early, then can begin to flounder. Without so much as a single bit of unconditional targeted creature removal (be it removal or something like an Acidic Sliver), the deck was unable to fend off the Pentarch paladin in Game Two.

These are less failings with Sliver Evolution in general and more vulnerabilities of the ultra-aggro archetype, though Evolution does itself few favours. Overall, though, it’s a lot of fun to play once you’re able to start the steamroll going.

Hits: Great tribal theme that finally goes all-in and indulges heavily on the Sliver count; capable of absolutely brutal beatings

Misses: Also capable of floundering starts, and as an all-in creature strat is vulnerable to removal; pitiful removal suite makes eliminating troublesome defenders and nettlesome utility creatures

OVERALL SCORE: 4.50/5.00

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Varo
    Jun 8 2011

    Nice review to close the time spiral set. Although not being a fan of the sliver tribe, i think this a fairly good deck even without removal suite.

    It was funny to read how your slivers were the ones doing the flanking the first match, Jimi and her bad luck drawing hands gave you an easy time.

    I’m not very fond of three or more colours decks, but imo slivers need as much colours as they can fit into the deck, making the gemhide as useful as necessary to drop all the creatures you need in time.

  2. Ben
    Jun 8 2011

    Slivers. What more can you say? They either win hard or run out of steam and die. Both modes are seen here, which demonstrates the strength of the EL playtesting method.

    I also enjoyed the Time Spiral reviews. It’s really fun to see the meshing of old and new themes, as Wizards intended new players to be introduced to them.

  3. troacctid
    Jun 8 2011

    Did you catch that Flanking doesn’t affect other creatures with Flanking? Outrider en-Kor should be able to trade with the 1/1 Slivers in the first game.

    • Scorium
      Jun 9 2011

      Flanking affects other creatures with flanking. As a proof of this there is a knight in the Hope’s crusadres deck that gives flanking to creatures that already have flanking.
      Also, the Magic Comprehensive Rules says:

      702.22b If a creature has multiple instances of flanking, each triggers separately.

      • Varo
        Jun 9 2011

        I think troacctid is right, if you see the reminder text in a card with the flanking ability, it says that the defender only gets -1-1 if it doesn’t have flanking.

        He was talking about combat between creatures with flanking, and you were talking about giving a second instance of the ability to creatures that already have it, simple misunderstanding.

        • Jun 9 2011

          I think troacctid is right

          Please don’t say that, you’ll only encourage him. 😀

          Over the course of the past year, Troacctid has been the #1 error hunter on the site. Just as children peek under their beds for fear of the bogeyman before going to sleep, we have a similar experience whenever we hit “Publish” on a playtest review, doubly so as late with the baby and our attentions being more often distracted and divided. The speed with which he can find even the smallest oversight is impressive, and this isn’t a slight at all- it’s great to have folks keep us on our toes, as it improves our game as well!

          • troacctid
            Jun 9 2011


            Reminds me, I gotta renew my Rules Advisorship. It’s expiring.

  4. DrJones
    Jun 9 2011

    I recall that I playtested the sliver deck once, and it was really strong in the environment. I made some changes to the mana base and added a few rare slivers and it was unbeatable in my meta.

    Then I gave the deck to a friend for a tournament, he came in late without having playtested the deck, and slaughtered it by adding three copies of that wizard with slivercycling, and removing all swamps from his deck because he thought that Gemhide Sliver was enough. Then proceeded to lose every single round of that tournament.

    The best moment of the night was when he lost against a crappy flanking deck that used the combo Hivestone + Sidewinder Sliver to give all his creatures extra instances of flanking. 😀

    I still would play a Sliver deck if given the option, I love them.

  5. Ethan Fleischer
    Jun 10 2011

    Another great review. This is one of my favorite precons; I love Slivers! I hope we can bring them back some day.

  6. Limbonic_Art
    Dec 5 2012

    Slivers in general are one of the most interesting tribes in MTG. I was thinking of using either this deck or Sliver Shivers to introduce my friend into magic, as they are a tribe that rewards you for playing many creatures and can give insight of some of the synergies and complexities in magic. As for the deck itself, I’m happy it didn’t dominate against Hope’s Crusaders, instead being less one sided. The removal suite has to be bad in order to compensate for tremendous synergy between the creatures. It is worthy of commenting how you managed to win 2 games without seeing Gemhide sliver, its just a testament of the decks power. If you were able to play sliver evolution against all of the other time spiral theme decks multiple times, would this have a superior win ratio? Also on another note, what are some of the top theme decks to show to new players in an attempt to hook them into magic?


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