Too-Specific Top 10 - Ctrl+C
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Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know that Howl of the Horde is the only three mana spell copier that can copy a target spell more than once without targeting it?)
One of the things I love about spoiler season, other than just that it's spoiler season, is that it spoon-feeds me topical top ten lists. The first week of Strixhaven spoilers was no different, with me seeing the new
Izzet Prismari commander Zaffai, Thunder Conductor and Professor Onyx's spoiling of the new keyword Magecraft.
In other words, there's an incoming set and keyword mechanic that both care a whole heck of a lot about copying spells, which means that there just might be some call for finding out what the best effects to copy spells are!
Top 10 Non-Izzet Copy Effects
First off, here's a list of the most popular spell copy effects.
Top 10 Copy Effects
- Narset's Reversal
- Primal Amulet
- Dualcaster Mage
- Ral, Storm Conduit
- Thousand-Year Storm
- Insidious Will
- Increasing Vengeance
- Swarm Intelligence
- Wild Ricochet
I like it, it's a good list, but I think the interesting thing about Magecraft isn't necessarily that it cares about copying and casting spells, but rather that it does so outside of the normal Izzet color identity where we see that spellslinger mentality in every single limited format. After all, the #5 card on the list, Ral, Storm Conduit, actually has Magecraft printed on him word for word, meaning this is not exactly a new concept for the Weirds among us.
What is new and exciting is white, black, and green cards caring about casting and copying spells, and as such we're going to lean into that!
Criteria: Cards not in the red-blue-colorless color identity that can copy a spell, be it another spell or the spell itself. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.
10. Enduring Ideal
(535 Inclusions, 0% of 219,637 Decks)
For literal years, I have been finding new ways for my five color Cycling deck to end games without spending 30 minutes just Cycling every turn. I've written no less than than three articles talking about evolutions of the deck, and I guess here's a reason to gush about it a fourth time! Enduring Ideal is unique in several ways. It's part of a five card cycle of Epic spells that only allow you to copy the Epic spell you've cast each upkeep at the price of not being able to cast any spells for the rest of the game. It's also the most played of that cycle, despite being a white card, which makes it a unique unicorn indeed.
So why am I talking about Cycling, then? Well, Cycling cards can get you all sorts of effects, without actually technically casting anything, making it an excellent companion to the Epic spells! Combine that with a deck that already had about five slots dedicated to a complex kill scheme involving Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Karma effects, and what can you do but make two packages for the deck that you can decide on with the flip of a coin before the game?
Epic Spin CycleView on Archidekt
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
As for the card itself, Enduring Ideal is widely considered the best of the Epic spells because it's a lot more reasonably castable than Eternal Dominion, and can win games all on its own in Enchantress and Shrine Tribal decks. Not that going to find an Astral Slide with a Golos in play ever hurt either.
Oh, and on the subject of Zaffai, Thunder Conductor and Eternal Dominion? Now that's a two card combination I can get behind.
9. Genesis Storm
(936 Inclusions, 0% of 235,558 Decks)
Part of another cycle seen often throughout games of EDH, Genesis Storm is the green component to the "copy this spell for each time you've cast your commander" contingent.
With a brief aside to mention how boring the white contributor to this cycle is, and that we'll be seeing the unmentioned black portion here in a moment, the real thing I'd like to mention with the "Storm" cycle is just how much I like it personally. That may seem like a weird take to mention, but I do so anyhow because I've been one of the most outspoken critics I know of of Commander cards that break the fourth wall of the format by referencing commanders and the command zone specifically. I am still of the opinion that Eminence was the worst decision in the history of the format, and feel that we would all be better off in general if Wizards would stop designing cards with Commander in mind.
With that said, this cycle is amazing, and in a world where Wizards does continue to print cards specifically with the EDH crowd in mind, these are the exact kinds of effects I love (even if I'd rather they not exist). Genesis Storm is exactly the kind of Timmy/Tammy card I love, making for epic moments of flipping cards off the top of your deck that get a whole table excited for what's going to happen next. So, if I've ever managed to pique the interest of a list-loving WotC employee, then this message is for you: more of this, please!
8. Skull Storm
(997 Inclusions, 0% of 248,234 Decks)
Skull Storm is a bit pricier than Genesis Storm, but can also easily win games outright in decks with must-remove commanders and a means to keep the board empty. These days, however, a whole lot of decks fit that description. Think of how many times a Meren of Clan Nel-Toth hits the battlefield only to be immediately removed, and then that happens twice more before it finally sticks and starts doing the work of making sure no one else has creatures. Hitting the entire table for half of their life total three times will even take the lifegain decks down to a managable level, and if there are any creatures left they still get sacrificed, probably triggering a Blood Artist of some kind along the way.
7. Wing Shards
(1,040 Inclusions, 0% of 219,637 Decks)
Being an old-school Standard player, I've had a soft spot for Wing Shards ever since it was printed. The ability to punish a player for being greedy with their first main phase, or to bait out a combat trick only to have an attacking player instead sacrifice all the creatures they're attacking with, has always been top shelf levels of fun. That said, I'm a bit surprised to see Wing Shards still on this list, as it has been a long time since it was considered a Commander staple, and almost as long since I've even tried justifying it as a pet card.
Still, maybe Wing Shards is about to have its day in the sun once more, with the printing of Magecraft? It's not like it's ever been a bad card, just more of a boring vegetable that's a bit situational and costs one more mana than most decks want to pay for removal.
6. Sprouting Vines
(1,061 Inclusions, 0% of 235,558 Decks)
Speaking of surprises, I must admit my initial thought upon seeing Sprouting Vines here was "what deck even wants this?" For the price, your initial inclination is that this should put the lands into play (although with Storm, that would be truly broken). Looking at its EDHREC page, however, the answer of what decks want this card is immediately apparent.
On the face of it, Sprouting Vines is in the same class of card that Yavimaya Elder or Krosan Tusker are: Card draw that often gets mistaken as ramp because it involves lands. But for decks that want lands specifically in their hand, Sprouting Vines is even better card draw than the green staples of old. A few cheap land fetchers and a Vines can instantly flip your Sasaya, Orochi Ascendant to double your mana, and a Borborygmos Enraged deck that already has the mana to play down its seven mana commander can more or less take out the table with a few spells of any kind and a Sprouting Vines to refill a hand that's run dry. What will be really interesting, however, is how much more play this card might see now that there is a second cheap green Storm spell in Weather the Storm, along with a whole lot of Magecraft incoming. Kalamax and Cascade decks, you might want to keep an eye out.
5. Bitter Ordeal
(1,131 Inclusions, 0% of 248,234 Decks)
I've long had an obsession with Jester's Cap, and have been telling artifact brewers for years to put it in their high-powered Commander decks to take combo decks by surprise. There's no better feeling than watching a Fblthp, the Lost deck try and figure out what to do after all of its Laboratory Maniacs and the lone copy of Proteus Staff have been removed, other than when you do something similar to an actually powerful deck. What's even better than repeatedly recurring your Jester's Cap to dunk on the combo decks of the world, however, is doing the same all in one go with Bitter Ordeal in your graveyard deck. At a very affordable three mana, you can often get rid of huge chunks of each opponent's deck after a board wipe, allowing you to not only take out combo pieces but also just get a little bit choosey when it comes to scary threats or engines in general. Or, if there's a token deck on the board, it's not all that uncommon to be able to just deck an entire player, which isn't a bad deal!
4. Tendrils of Agony
(2,350 Inclusions, 1% of 248,234 Decks)
The quintessential Storm finisher, Tendrils of Agony needs no introduction to anyone who's hung around 60 card formats for a while. For the rest of us, however, this four mana Drain Life can be an absolute finisher when it comes to spells decks, even with the higher life totals in EDH. If I had to guess, the only real reason that it's down in the low 2000's for inclusions is because it's not typical for Storm strategies to include black, instead sticking to the Izzets and Jeskais of the world.
Which, if you're a hipster like me, is all the more reason to give it another look! With access to Dark Rituals, cheap card draw, cheap creatures, and cheap creature recursion to hand, it is absolutely workable to play Storm in black, and your opponents will never see it coming!
3. Malicious Affliction
(3,111 Inclusions, 1% of 248,234 Decks)
Okay, hold up.
How did no one tell me about Malicious Affliction? This card looks amazing in mono-black, or even two color decks! I'm more than happy to pay three mana and five life to get this effect in Ashes to Ashes or Reckless Spite, and it's been available for two this whole time? Sure, there has to have been a creature already killed during the turn, or it's just a normal old Terror. Wait, that's not a downside, it's just Terror with all upside!
I'm sorry, I need a minute. Top ten anime betrayals over here, that no one advised me of this card's existence.
2. Unbound Flourishing
(4,383 Inclusions, 2% of 219,051 Decks)
My original idea for this list was only including spells that could copy other spells, in the vein of the classic Fork and the modern-day Narset's Reversal. The only problem? The only non-Izzet card that fit the bill was Unbound Flourishing. That's right. Maybe Strixhaven will expand on things, but for now, if you want to copy spells outside of Prismari, then then only way to do it is go full Hydra with this three mana enchantment. That said, there are a fair amount of decks already doing just that, most notably the X Spell Tribal powerhouses of Zaxara, the Exemplary and Rosheen Meanderer.
And in that limited sample, Unbound Flourishing is absolutely a kill-on-sight card. Being able to cast Jaya's Immolating Inferno or Villainous Wealth for a bunch of mana and immediately get double the effect just wins games. Immediately. And doubling your Hydras isn't bad either!
1. Sevinne's Reclamation
(7,406 Inclusions, 4% of 188,342 Decks)
More! More inclusions! More decklists! More playing Sevinne's Reclamation! It's wonderful to end a top ten lists not about white cards with a white card, but seriously, y'all are sleeping on this thing in a serious way. Sevinne's Reclamation is the most flexible white card that's ever been printed, getting you a Sun Titan activation for a mere three mana, and then two more later on in the game. Whether you're getting Magecraft triggers or not, any of your decks that play white should be throwing this in right alongside the obligatory Swords to Plowshares. It gets your utility creatures and engines back, ramps you if you're playing any lands that sacrifice or Cycle at all, and in general just creates card advantage and resiliency. Wizards, print this thing into the ground so that we can all pick up five copies. And the rest of you, go do exactly that!
This was a deeper well than I expected, despite not many of these cards seeing a whole lot of play, so let's dig a bit further into some interesting stuff that didn't make the top ten!
This card exists, would have been #12 on the list, and is now $15.00 as of the writing of this article, as it can singlehandedly get you infinite Magecraft triggers. If you played back in Onslaught, go look through your black bulk already!
The ultimate in Disenchants for decks that would be playing cards like Glare of Subdual, Gleeful Sabotage can wreck entire boards in a single turn in a fashion we haven't seen since Aura Shards. Which, it must be said, is probably the only reason that this card doesn't see a lot more play.
Speaking of card advantage in white, this is an example of it. If you're in the token game, then this is absolutely a diamond in the rough worth looking into.
People always seem to forget that it's just spells in general that trigger Storm, not necessarily instants and sorceries. That means that if you're the cheap creature Aristocrats deck, then Reaping the Graves is absolutely worth a look to refill your hand after you've played four creatures and sacrificed them all for value.
Chain of Smog is getting all of the hype in the wake of Magecraft, but all of the Chain cards are worth another look if there's decent Magecraft triggers to be had out there. And so far? There absolutely are.
In a similar vein to Reaping the Graves, Disturbing Plot can be an absolute game-changer in decks playing a lot of small creatures or tokens, allowing you to grab essential utility creatures and sac outlets like Blood Artist and Viscera Seer back from the graveyard all at once with nothing but a tap of your tokens (that you can then sac afterward).
Nuts and Bolts
There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall search.
What Do You Think?
Finally, what Strixhaven copy effect, enabler, or payoff are you most excited about so far? Are you planning on brewing up a non-Izzet spells deck, or jazzing up the spells deck you already have (My Will & Rowan is hungry right now, I can tell you that)?
Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the white convention tables in the "Command Zone" that just seem to keep multiplying with every new event. (Now, if we could just get some more events....)