Timetwister – Alpha (1993)
Date Reviewed: October 20, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 5.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
We’ve been doing Cards of the Day here at Pojo for a very long time, and I like that we’re talking about Timetwister to mark the occasion. I can make some kind of comparison about how we could (or should) engage with Magic, how time doesn’t always have to run in one direction, in the sense that you can play with any card you like whenever you like.
On its first reading, Timetwister looks like an odd sort of card. You might think you’re exchanging your hand and graveyard for a better one, which is technically true. Of course, if your hand is empty, it’s literally three mana to draw seven cards, and that’s ignoring the way your graveyard gets re-circulated too. It’s not the sort of card you can just run out and it’ll always have the maximum impact (cf. Wheel of Fortune); it’s the sort of card you build around and make much less fair than the letter of its text (cf. Balance). Even so, its power is unmistakable, and it can make your opponent feel like they’re playing a different game from you, particularly in matchups that go long enough for it to become apparent that you’re never running out of resources.
If we review another 5,000 cards, I doubt we’ll ever see one quite like Timetwister. It’s a true icon of Magic’s early years and of all time.
If you do want to try out some old, old, incredibly old school power plays but don’t have access to the physical cards, there’s a page at Geocities of Brass which might be able to help you out.
Out of the “Power 9”, Timetwister is the card that is less conspicuously powerful than the rest of its brethren. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very good, and there’s a reason why cards have attracted attention for sharing Timetwister’s effect at its mana cost (albeit with downside), but it’s far subtler than things like “draw 3 cards” and “add lots of mana to your mana pool” and “take an extra turn”.
Timetwister’s effect is a classic: reset graveyards and hands, and draw 7 new cards. Useful to refill after unloading one’s hand, especially in conjunction with things like fast-mana cards (like the Moxen and Black Lotus, and even Dark Ritual), but what makes Timetwister powerful is that it’s aggressively costed and winds up in your graveyard afterwards, which allows you to recycle it in future turns or cast it anew from your graveyard. The classic line is to dump your hand, recycle everything, and then go again; while opponents also see this happen, you’re likely better positioned to benefit from the timely Timetwister, and symmetrical effects have long-been positioned to be broken. The only version of the effect that’s arguably more powerful is Time Spiral, but Time Spiral has issues of its own.
It’s hard to really evaluate Timetwister, since it’s a card that really functions better in an environment than in an abstract sense; it’s long been the combo extender, and it’s definitely a spell whose strength lies more in what you can do after it. Admittedly, that’s the trend with a lot of the Power 9 (whose effects are all very strong enabling effects), but Timetwister is the one of the nine that takes it the farthest. It’s actually not banned in Commander, unlike the rest of its brethren, but good luck finding one.
Limited: 3.25 (it’s only as powerful as the things that it enables, and it’s far harder to break the symmetry with a narrow card pool)
It is a pleasure to be involved in Pojo’s 5,000th card of the day review! I remember this being my homepage back in 2001/2002 and reading everyone’s thoughts and opinions on all of my hobbies in one website. What better way to celebrate number 5,000 than with a piece of the Power 9…Timetwister! My first all 5’s because this card is just that good. For 3 mana you get a fresh start, the board state remains the same and any graveyard strategies your opponent was trying to do are not back in their library. There’s a reason this card is in the top 9 best magic cards of all time, you can quickly turn the game around for 3 mana and disrupt your opponents and give yourself a fresh hand to work with. I think this card speaks for itself in all scenarios and situations! (and if you don’t believe me just look at the price!)
- Constructed: 5/5
- Casual: 5/5
- Limited: 5/5
- Multiplayer: 5/5
- Commander: 5/5
Pojo Note: MTG was my first Trading Card Game (if you don’t count the Strat-O-Matic Baseball draft leagues I played in – in the late 1970’s). I started playing Magic in 1995 and fell in love with it. I used to read all the MTG Books and Magazines I could get my hands on back then. I even reviewed all those MTG books on an old AOL Homepage I had in the 90’s. The reviews are posted in an old Pojo Folder for nostalgia’s sake.
We started reviewing Magic: the Gathering Cards of the Day on November 28th, 2001! And we have been reviewing Magic cards 5-days-per-week ever since. Special thanks to David, James and now Mike for giving fans something new and fun to read every day. I love your guys reviews! Cheers! – Bill
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