CardName – Time Spiral Remastered
Date Reviewed: March 15, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 4.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Every time I look at Jaya’s Time Spiral card here, it strikes me how her design foreshadowed the design of the first planeswalker cards from Lorwyn, with its three abilities of variable cost and scale. And fittingly for one of Magic’s most popular characters, all of her abilities are strong. A blue opponent can get locked out of the game entirely by her first ability, and casting Incinerate at will can dominate creatures and control decks alike. And if the game goes long, her last ability can kill Titans and players alike – at instant speed, no less, and probably using a land you didn’t need anyway. This was one of the first inclinations we got, too, that red could have a more serious long game again after the seeming aberrations of Wildfire and Mirrodin Big Red.
While she’s definitely slow for competitive Magic, I can’t imagine an era when the most popular planeswalker – the folk hero to Urza’s distant general – won’t be great in casual games. And she looks great in the Dominaria legendary creature crown!
In a sense, Jaya Ballard is one of Magic‘s most enduring and iconic characters. While she would finally get a planeswalker iteration in Dominaria, her proper debut was as a creature in Time Spiral, one year before planeswalkers came along. She first started receiving quotes on cards in Ice Age, so her card was arguably a decade in the making.
Jaya Ballard, Task Mage is an homage to three spells from the game’s history that she gave flavor text to: Pyroblast, Incinerate, and Inferno. While the Pyroblast bit only blows up permanents, repeatable countermagic for one mana is a bit much, even by hate standards, and this is good enough for punishing an annoying blue mage. She even spends the same amount of mana for each of these approximations, and being able to turn excess lands into shots of Incinerate is always nice. Inferno is a potent board wipe (even if she falls in the process of it), and it’s a good emergency weapon.
Jaya is definitely too slow for Constructed; her body is pretty flimsy, and she’s slow to come online. But repeatable burn is always fun for the entire family, and she’s a lovely card for what Time Spiral was (and is still fun at casual tables to this day).
Limited: 4.5 (if she gets entrenched, good luck removing her)
Commander: 4 (reusable versions of each of her spells is surprisingly nice)
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