As we continue on with our Doctor Who deck reviews, we find ourselves arriving in the modern, post-reboot age of the show. The first deck of that era is entitled Timey-Wimey, focusing on the Suspend and Vanishing mechanics, both of which involve the aptly-named time counters. Let’s take a look at which Doctor we feel is best suited to helm this TARDIS of a deck as it sets off into a brave new era – and how we can best mold the deck around that choice.
Timey-Wimey severely cuts down on the number of Doctors available when compared to Blast from the Past, with only the first four doctors of the new era – Nine, Ten, Eleven and War. This means we have a bit more time to devote to assessing which doctor might serve as the best leader for a time counters-focused deck. It’s also important to consider which companion might best travel alongside our Doctor, since the “Doctor’s Companion” mechanic allows us to pick one for free as a partner.
First off is the Ninth Doctor, who grants us an additional upkeep each turn, so long as he untaps during the previous untap step. While this does cause Suspend spells to come into play faster as they lose twice the amount of time counters, it actually makes the Vanishing permanents worse, as they decay at twice the rate. This isn’t a huge downside (the deck doesn’t run that many Vanishing spells when compared to Suspend), but the card doesn’t bring nearly enough in upside to make up for it.
Then we have the War Doctor, who is incredible. Whenever a card is put into exile, he gets a time counter. Multiple cards being exiled at the same time only counts as one trigger, but there are a multitude of cards in Magic that only exile one card at a time. Those grant one counter per card. Once the War Doctor is loaded up with time counters, he can deal an absurd amount of damage as a triggered ability when he attacks. While this makes him a truly powerful commander, swapping in the specific kind of card that works best with his ability would require a complete overhaul of what Timey–Wimey is.
There’s also the Eleventh Doctor, who can give cards in a players hand Suspend when he deals combat damage. This is great for artificially increasing the number of Suspend cards in the deck, but has a couple unfortunate downsides. The first is that he has to deal combat damage, which means he likely has to use his own ability to grant himself unblockable, costing a bit of mana. The second is that he puts a number of time counters on the cards he exiles equal to their mana value. The best part of Suspend is cheating out powerful cards as quickly as possible.
For that we can instead look to the deck’s face commander, the Tenth Doctor. He exiles a random nonland card off the top of his controller’s library and gives it Suspend, but only puts three time counters on it. The fixed rate of one card of turn is a downside, but it’s one that can be worked around. And once enough cards are floating around in exile, his activated ability can be used to pull them all from exile at once. If there’s a way to make Suspend work, it’s going to be with Ten.
Since we’re sticking with Ten, we need a mono-white companion to maintain the deck’s color identity. The only white companion (and in fact, the one best-suited for our purposes) is Rose Tyler, the deck’s face companion. Rose gets bigger and bigger the more time counters she has, and she gets more when there are cards with Suspend in exile or permanents with Vanishing on the battlefield. Running more of those will help up her power and toughness, but there’s also a couple other cards we’ll need to add to make best use of her.
A giant threat isn’t a threat at all without evasion, so let’s add a couple of equipment to our deck that give trample. Shadowspear is a big winner here, since it’s cheap, efficient, and gives lifelink to boot. The Reaver Cleaver is a lot more expensive, but gives a free refund of all that mana if Rose can connect even once. Lastly we can include that mostly deadly threat of Embercleave, giving opponents a false sense of security and allowing them to block before flashing in trample and double strike.
The Chopping Block
Unlike Blast from the Past, Timey-Wimey has a lot of cards that shouldn’t make the final copy of the deck. This includes Martha Jones, Donna Noble, Sally Sparrow, Jenny, Astrid Peth, RMS Titanic, The Day of the Doctor, Run for Your Life, Adipose Offspring, Laser Screwdriver and The Eleventh Hour. Most of these cards fall into a Treasure/Clue/Food subtheme the deck has which doesn’t particularly suit the final product, while The Day of the Doctor and Run for Your Life are just plain bad. Adipose Offspring is interesting, and doesn’t absolutely have to be removed, but once again doesn’t play particularly well into what the deck is trying to do.
Laser Screwdriver isn’t off theme, but is a lot worse than the Sonic Screwdriver. Untapping an artifact is often a lot more valuable than tapping one, and making a creature unblockable is a lot more useful than goading one. As such, players would probably be better off swapping in a two-cost artifact that taps for mana instead. The Eleventh Hour is also just not good enough of a card to run, since neither the first or second chapters do enough for the initial cost of four mana.
The All Stars
While Timey-Wimey has some cards that don’t make the final cut, there’s plenty to like about the rest of the deck. The deck comes with a suite of support cards for the Suspend mechanic, but the best part is the new Suspend cards themselves. Dinosaurs on a Spaceship is a delightful little threat reminiscent of the Aeon Chronicler cycle from Time Spiral. It makes plenty of fun 2/2 fliers each turn, and then buffs them all up when it finally comes off Suspend, while still providing a 7/7 with vigilance and trample. There’s also Judoon Enforcers, who provide an 8/8 body with trample but also a nice Silent Arbiter-style effect to ensure their controller isn’t rushed down.
The Atraxi Warden is another large, evasive threat, with a minor upside as it enters the battlefield and destroys a tapped creature. Last but not least is the Star Whale, an 8/8 with vigilance, flying and the ability to grant all your other creatures ward 2. Support cards for Suspend are all well and good, but where Timey-Wimey really shines is its cards that actually have Suspend. They serve a dual purpose of being great hits for the Tenth Doctor if exiled by his ability, while also being playable if drawn naturally.
Timey-Wimey needs a lot of work, but could also end up being a lot of fun.
Alex Sowa is a journalist, poet and writer. She also plays an unhealthy amount of Commander, with a dip into Pioneer from time-to-time. She’ll play any deck with either massive creatures or five-color shenanigans, but both is even better. You can find her on Twitter at @lx_sowa