The Toolbox - River's Rebuke

(River's Rebuke | By Raymond Swanland)

I Rebuke Thee!

Welcome back to The Toolbox! Here we take a look at underplayed cards and evaluate where they ought to see more play.

Today we are taking a look at the mass bounce spell, River's Rebuke. Is this as good as Cyclonic Rift? Nope. Should you still be playing it? Let's find out!

River's Rebuke does indeed rush an opponent like a river. The key word there is an opponent. Unlike its big brother Cyclonic Rift, River's Rebuke can only bounce the nonland permanents of a single player. So why are we even talking about this? The card is clearly better than Cyclonic Rift

Here are a handful of commanders that currently play River's Rebuke most often. Niv-Mizzet, Parun uses Rebuke, for example, because of his Spellslinger tendencies, gaining benefits from Niv himself as well as copy effects like Thousand-Year Storm. For Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca, Rebuke clears out blockers, and has fun synergy with things like Salvager of Secrets. Then we have God-Eternal Kefnet, who has the ability to both discount and copy the Rebuke, which can lead to some truly devastating plays.

It's clear why some of these decks utilize Rebuke, but let's dive deeper! Where else should River’s Rebuke get a slot alongside the great Cyclonic Rift?!

Nothing Less Than Perfection

With Naban, Dean of Iteration, anything less than absolute perfection is unacceptable! He's a 2/1 Human Wizard for two mana that also, in a nutshell, is a Wizard-focused Panharmonicon on a stick. Why should he care about using a simple river to rebuke someone for their imperfections?

Naban leads a Wizard tribal deck, it's true. However, many of the best Wizard creatures are still very centralized in the Spellslinger archetype. Just look at Naru Meha, Master Wizard, Spellseeker, Talrand, Sky Summoner, and of course, Snapcaster Mage!

In mono-blue, there just aren't a lot of hard removal spells. We can't Wrath of God a bad board, which means we need to bounce things as often as possible if we're going to keep the board clear. Bounce spells such as Cyclonic Rift and Aetherize act as the main interaction, along with Counterspells. River's Rebuke fits the bill for this quite well. Want to get particularly nasty? Rebuke an opponent, then play Archaeomancer to get it back, and Rebuke enemies all over again. It's quite nice to have multiple copies of mass bounce effects for a deck as spell-focused as this! Just take a look at the decklist to see all that you can do!

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The Magnificent Izmagnus

Sometimes I forget that Mizzix of the Izmagnus is a Goblin Wizard. I'm just too distracted by her amazing ability to reduce the cost of our instants and sorceries. She is basically a Goblin Electromancer that scales up! So why would she want a mass bounce spell that only targets one opponent?

Because frankly, there are a lot of things that get in your way when you're trying to play a bunch of spells in one turn. First and foremost, Rebuke can wipe out a token player's dreams, or just reset the board of any player who's trying to aggro you down. If someone has come prepared with effects like Rule of Law, Ethersworn Canonist, or Spirit of the Labyrinth to mess with your special plans, this is another useful catch-all.

Simply put, Mizzix needs a little interaction, because the effects that neutralize her win conditions can be so annoying. As much as I hate having to play interaction in my Omnath Storm deck, that interactivity is required for those hate cards and in case someone builds up too much of a board and starts to threaten you. Plus, even if it's at sorcery speed, it feels pretty great to bounce someone's entire board for just two mana when you have enough experience counters.

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Hey, Want Some Cards?

For those that have never played against him, let me tell you, Nekusar, the Mindrazer is a pain to play against! He's an innocuous 2/4 for five mana that allows everyone to draw an additional card. Sounds good, right? Well, he also deals 1 damage to his opponents when they draw a card. It's death by a thousand cuts, but with cards like Wheel of Fortune and Windfall, those cuts happen pretty darn fast.

What would Nekusar do with River's Rebuke? Why would he care about putting things into someone's hand when he's just going to cast Windfall anyway?

Oh. Right. Nekusar plays a ton of wheels. Bounce things to an enemy hand, then force them to pitch it away! Plus, with effects like Windfall, Jace's Archivist, and Whispering Madness all those bounced cards will create an even bigger number of cards in hand, forcing everyone to draw even more cards! It can add up really quickly, out of nowhere. Nekusar can draw a lot of hate, so Rebuke is a great way to stave off attacks in a pinch and make wheels that much more dangerous. Take a look at the decklist to see all the sweet card draw mania!

Death by a Thousand Cuts

Commander (1)
Creatures (13)
Instants (9)
Sorceries (14)
Artifacts (13)
Enchantments (11)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (38)

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Who Wants to be Friends?

Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis, or K&T for short, really just want to be friends with everyone. They're a 2/8 who lets everyone either draw a card or play a land - but you can do both! Why should something like River's Rebuke matter in a deck like this?

K&T are political leaders, champions of the people! That means they should be champions of the political game of Commander, too. Politics can occasionally be messy in Commander, but Rebuke is hardly a game-breaking card, and it's a great tool for a deck that uses politics to achieve victory. For K&T, River's Rebuke is a way to stop a specific player who's growing to become too big of a threat. Alternatively, this can clear the way for everyone's attackers! Rebuke's single-target nature becomes a diverse tool to use in any manner of ways for the benefit of the table. Well, the rest of the table, at least. Not the person you're Rebuking. Anyway, just take a look at the decklist to see all the political shenanigans you have access to!

Group Hug Time

Commander (1)
Creatures (19)
Instants (6)
Sorceries (13)
Artifacts (11)
Enchantments (14)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (35)

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Just Around the Riverbend

Cyclonic Rift is obnoxiously strong and we all know it. It's also $25 at time of writing, and may continue to climb. River's Rebuke is a fantastic budget option with political applications, or just a card that offers redundant bounce effects for decks that need it.

So what do you think of River's Rebuke? Do you agree or disagree? What other decks should play it more often? Is it underplayed, or too much of a step down from Rift to warrant consideration? What's your favorite underrated card that more folks should have in their toolbox? Thank you as always for your support for the series! Please share your thoughts in the comments below, and as always, have a great day!

Elijah is a mildly obsessive EDH player from Georgia. He started playing during Battle for Zendikar with Green/Black Eldrazi Aristocrats and still pays tribute to the plane with his Omnath, Locus of Rage storm brew. He is always excited to innovate and try new things in Magic and Life. Elijah is currently a full time student looking to go into Computer Engineering but also has a bit of an artistic streak.