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Time Spiral booster pack contains 15 cards per pack. Distribution is 1 timeshift, 1 rare, 3 uncommon, and 10 commons. Released on October 6, 2006, Time Spiral is the first set in the Time Spiral block. The set contains 422 black-bordered cards (121 timeshift, 80 rare, 80 uncommon, 121 common, and 20 lands). The timeshift rarity is essentially the same as a rare.
The set is laden with references to previous Magic: the Gathering sets. The references are reflected in the card design, which incorporates special rules from older sets, and in the "Timeshifted" cards, which are cards reprinted from older sets using the older card design (abandoned three years previous with the 2003 release of Core Set 8th Edition.) The Time Spiral expansion symbol is an hourglass.
Time Spiral is the first set in the block of the same name. (A "block" consists of three theme-related expansion sets released over a period of a year.) It is followed by Planar Chaos, which deals with alternate timelines and includes many cards reprinted from previous sets but changed in some fundamental way, and Future Sight, which is forward-looking, both in that it includes cards from settings not yet explored in previous sets as well as including game mechanics that did not exist until it came out.
As with all Magic: the Gathering sets in this period, Time Spiral is accompanied by a tie-in novel of the same name. Time Spiral, written by Scott McGough, focuses on the efforts of Teferi to deal with the consequences of phasing out Shiv and Zhalfir during the Phyrexian Invasion. This novel was published in September 2006.
Time Spiral is typical among the first sets of a Magic: the Gathering block in that the cards are sold in four different forms. Four different theme decks, 60 card decks with themed, fixed composition were released, each featuring a different aspect of the set. Randomized packs, both as the typical 15-card booster packs and the larger 75-card tournament packs.
In his preview articles, Mark Rosewater described Time Spiral as an expansion focused on the past, with its successors, Planar Chaos and Future Sight, to be centered around the present and future respectively. This design was achieved through keywords and mechanics that interact with time, as well as cards based on those in previous sets, to promote a sense of nostalgia. Time Spiral was codenamed "Snap" during development.
Creature types from previous block sets, such as Kavu, Merfolk, Thallids and Slivers, have returned, in addition to new incarnations of old cards. Eight keyword abilities from past sets also returned in Time Spiral, with some keywords not having appeared since 1997: Buyback, Echo, Flanking, Flashback, Madness, Morph, Shadow and Storm. Old non-keyword mechanics like rebels, spellshapers, and nightmares also appear on new cards, along with a cycle of slivers. There are also several cards which directly allude to older, well-known cards, such as the Magus cycle: creatures that are similar to the cards Cursed Scroll, Nevinyrral's Disk, Memory Jar, Mirror Universe, and Candelabra of Tawnos.
To further represent the temporal chaos afflicting Dominaria, Time Spiral was released with an additional sub-set of 121 Timeshifted cards, reprints of select cards from every set prior to Mirrodin. The Timeshifted cards were updated to meet the current rules and keywording. To differentiate them from normal cards, Timeshifted cards are printed in the pre-8th Edition card frame, with a purple Time Spiral expansion symbol. The Timeshifted cards are distributed one per booster pack and three per tournament pack (taking the place of common cards), and also appear in the preconstructed decks. According to DCI-distributed tournament primers, Timeshifted cards are tournament legal where Time Spiral or the set of original printing are.
Timeshifted cards also appear in Planar Chaos and Future Sight, but are not direct reprints of older cards.
The novel Time Spiral, written by Scott McGough, tells the story of Teferi's return to Dominaria. It expands the setting and events depicted on the cards of Time Spiral into a full story. Teferi returns to Dominaria three hundred years after the Phyrexian invasion, to prepare for the return of Shiv and Zhalfir, the lands he phased out during the Phyrexian invasion. The stress of constant warfare and apocalypse (the Brothers' War, the Phyrexian invasion, Karona's War), combined with mana-draining rifts created by the overlaying of Rath and Skyshroud (among other events across the multiverse, such as the near-destruction of Ulgrotha), have set off a chain reaction that has created ripples in the temporal fabric of the planes. The unphasing of Shiv threatens to destroy the plane of Dominaria, and in turn the entire multiverse.
After the defeat of Karona, the rifts in the planar fabric began to act as mana sinks, draining the lands of mana. Life on the plane became harsh and the temporal rifts caused people and objects from Dominaria's past to be "dropped" into the present, leaving people stranded in unrecognizable lands that are thousands of years from their time.