– Champions of Kamigawa
February 1, 2018
Commander [EDH]: 3.75
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
If you’re familiar with Dungeons and Dragons, this card’s name will catch your eye, if nothing else. It’s a level 9 spell in that game, and it’s suitably strong, although it has more limitations than are shown in adaptations like Baldur’s Gate II. For one thing, most editions don’t actually let you attack enemies while time is stopped, which rules out the devastating Time Stop-Whirlwind Attack rampages that most Baldur’s Gate players have tried at least once.
Magic’s Time Stop is also quite powerful, though the nature of Magic turns means that the spectrum of effects is different. It can be a straightforward six-mana instant-speed Time Warp if you need it to, but it’s always worth remembering that its text exiles other spells from the stack and does so without targeting them. This makes it a useful, albeit expensive and therefore probably last-ditch, defense against the world’s Demonfires and Dragonstorms. I’d definitely recommend digging this out of your collection and/or getting one or two as singles and experimenting with it, as it’s a rarely-seen style of card and we often don’t have a good feel for how rare designs play – sometimes it turns out we like them better than we expect.
This card was the bane of my existence for awhile. When used defensively this card can ruin a player’s day. Lets go back to one fateful night for a second. I draw a card PAUSE I take 4 damage from Ebony Owl Netsuke. I play a board wipe ZA WARUDO now my spell fizzles. Surely after three turns they will give me a break so I attack with Ulamog CHAOS CONTROL A Snapcaster hits the table and now all my creatures are tapped and I’m wide open to everyone’s attacks. The point I’m trying to make is that initially this card plays very similarly to Time Warp but in multiplayer Time Stop gains extra dimensions.
Six mana is a lot, especially for blue but these three words are deceptively deep. You can abuse Upkeep and End Step abilities, counter a spell, or stop an attack. The cherry on top is that unlike most chronomancy spells, this one doesn’t exile itself so it can be abused. My only gripe is that while the art is nice, it doesn’t capture a sense of the flow of time freezing.
“End the turn”. It’s elegant rules text that entails a lot of things, as the reminder text so helpfully details. Time Stop is a lot of cards rolled into one: the ultimate counterspell, a Fog effect, a Stifle effect, a Time Walk, or maybe multiple things at the same time. Time Stop remains a fairly unique spell; Sundial of the Infinite only lets you end your own turns (along with Day’s Undoing), while Glorious End will cause you to meet with a glorious end at the conclusion of your next turn.
Six mana is an awful lot to ask for, though, and being a blue instant that demands a lot of mana means it telegraphs itself from far away. Self-exiling as part of the resolution makes it less abusable than other powerful spells, so you need to be sure that this is what you want to answer. Because when it comes to ending turns, you won’t often get a do-over.
As an aside, the foil 10th Edition Time Stop has no reminder text or flavor text, with “End the turn.” as the only words in its rules box. It’s clean, elegant, and impressive for an effect that isn’t all that simple in execution.
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