Too-Specific Top 10 - Protection From Everything, All of the Time

(The One Ring | Art by Veli Nystrom)

Ring Race

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 Renari, Merchant of Marvels is the only Background commander that allows you to cast things at instant speed?)

Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth is on the horizon, and before they add more colons and subtitles, I wanted to do a deep dive on something fun that can be done with the namesake card, The One Ring.

"Protection from everything" is an ability that has only appeared on five cards in the history of Magic, precisely because it is one of the most powerful effects in Magic. In the early days of EDH, players that had to face down Progenitus found themselves beyond frustrated when they just had to take 10 damage every turn with no hope of blocking or using spot removal. Then, when Teferi's Protection was printed in Commander 2017, it became the ultimate answer to any problem short of Thassa's Oracle, although protection from everything was only a small part of the reason why. More recently, there was also Vexilus Praetor to protect your commander or let them alpha strike through, and The Stasis Coffin to hold your temporary immortality over the whole table.

Of those previous iterations, The One Ring most resembles The Stasis Coffin, with one big caveat: you can't cast and enjoy your protection from everything at instant speed.

Let's change that, shall we?

Top 10 Cards That Can Cast The One Ring at Flash Speed

It still won't be Teferi's Protection, but casting The One Ring at flash speed means being able to negate an alpha strike, counter a game-winning Fireball, or survive some of the nastiest combos out there. Sure, it's also going to mean building your whole deck around it, but it is The One Ring.

So let's put together the list of all the various strategies we can pursue that will have us feeling immortal!

Criteria: Cards that repeatedly allow you to cast The One Ring (from your own deck, as opposed to an opponent's deck, hand, or graveyard) at instant speed, unrestricted by a particular phase or step (e.g., during the combat damage step or the upkeep) or as part of casting or having a card enter the battlefield if the card would normally do so at sorcery speed. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score, only we'll go by the commander score on this one.

10. Elsha of the Infinite

(Helms 4,628 Decks, Rank #108; 7,165 Inclusions, 3% of 246,543 Decks)

Easily the best way to ensure we can cast The One Ring whenever we want is to have a means to do so in the command zone. Elsha of the Infinite provides precisely that, although with a few more hoops to jump through than the number 11 card, Renari, Merchant of Marvels, has to. Alas, if we were sorting this list on my own personal opinion, then that would probably give our resident Dragon Artificer the nod. As it is, break out those Scroll Racks and Brainstorms and start plotting the perfect time to surprise the world with your sudden invulnerability!

9. Jodah, the Unifier

(Helms 8,247 Decks, Rank #30; 3,773 Inclusions, 5% of 69,245 Decks)


Jodah, the Unifier, at least in regard to The One Ring, is no Elsha of the Infinite, much less a Renari, Merchant of Marvels. In order to have his triggered ability enable you to cast The One Ring at flash speed, you have to cast a legendary spell that costs five or more at flash speed, then luck into flipping The One Ring. Not an extremely likely scenario. Not to say that you can't pursue it, but you're probably better off leaving Jodah as the five-color legendary goodstuff commander that he is.

8. Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage

(Helms 882 Decks, Rank #635; 12,064 Inclusions, 2% of 502,858 Decks)

In the same vein as Renari, Merchant of Marvels, Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage inherently allows you to abuse The One Ring's ETB whenever you want, he just also allows you to do the same with any other legendaries or Sagas you have lying around. This means that after you've played down a horde of mana rocks at instant speed, you can then follow them up with an instant-speed Drafna, Founder of Lat-Nam to instantly return The One Ring and then cast it again!

7. Tidal Barracuda

(13,634 Inclusions, 1% of 1,122,871 Decks)

Sadly, you cannot play Tidal Barracuda in the command zone. If you can manage to find it in the 99, however, then it will absolutely enable The One Ring abuse while simultaneously making sure that other players can't interfere with your goings-on during your own turn. Even outside of this protection from everything silliness, if you've ever played a game with Tidal Barracuda in play, you're well aware of just how much it takes over your average game. The entire table being able to cast things at instant speed means no one's turn is their own except yours, and crazy swings can happen any other turn as blockers come down at instant speed, threats gain pseudo-haste as they come down at the end of the last player's turn, and board wipes are suddenly allowed at any moment.

6. Possibility Storm

(13,782 Inclusions, 1% of 1,085,122 Decks)

Sadly, I've never had the opportunity to have a Tidal Barracuda and a Possibility Storm in play at the same time, but it's hard to imagine a greater pandemonium. Possibility Storm gets a lot of flack for being a chaos card, but I would argue that it's more of a Stax card when used correctly. For instance, if you are a Stax deck and you play down a Rule of Law, you probably don't mind so much when you get a Stony Silence instead. The same goes for Hatebears, with say Thalia, Guardian of Thraben suddenly becoming a Drannith Magistrate. It doesn't just work for Stax decks, though. For instance, it's my strong opinion that every non-singleton deck should have a copy of Possibility Storm. While the rest of the table gets a bit miffed that their Lightning Bolts are becoming Counterspells, you're just casting a Dragon's Approach that becomes yet another Dragon's Approach!

In short, if you happen to have a gameplan you've heavily committed to in your deck that happens to have a lot of overlap with a certain card type, then you might consider Possibility Storm. Sure, it'll draw a lot of heat to your Elemental deck that it probably wouldn't get otherwise, but what are they really going to be able to do when they're rolling the dice with every card?

As for Possibility Storm and The One Ring, I would typically consider it not a great option unless you built the entire deck around it. You could, for instance, have a deck that only had two artifacts in it: The One Ring and Ancient Stone Idol. This would allow you to cast Ancient Stone Idol during the combat step, triggering Possibility Storm to go get The One Ring and nullify the person swinging out at you. It's a bit clunky, and it would be nice if there were a better, cheaper option that you could do at true flash speed without breaking the bank, but it is workable if you're willing to not have any mana rocks in your deck.

5. Liberator, Urza's Battlethopter

(Helms 1,259 Decks, Rank #497; 13,331 Inclusions, 2% of 797,953 Decks)

If instant-speed interaction is important for the average deck, it's water in the desert for colorless decks. That fact has rapidly catapulted Liberator, Urza's Battlethopter to the number three spot among colorless commanders, with it sitting only 800 decks behind Traxos, Scourge of Kroog. I won't be at all surprised when that surpassing occurs, but it will be a heavy lift for Liberator to ever get past Kozilek, the Great Distortion's 5,603.

Still, Liberator is an interesting commander in its own right, and its gift of flash for all things colorless is an ability you won't find anywhere else. It's made all the better by having a flying body that gets bigger as you cast bigger spells, leading you to incidental Voltron wins as you plop down small mana rocks to get to huge mana rocks to get to huge Eldrazi titans. Even in a world where you can play All Is Dust, Meteor Golem, and Crawlspace at instant speed, interaction is hard to come by in a colorless deck. That's why if I were to build a deck entirely based around abusing The One Ring's ETB every turn, it would be with Liberator, Urza's Battlethopter. Finding enough ways to bounce the ring to your hand will be a bit difficult, but if you're also willing to sacrifice it and return it from your graveyard, things get a whole lot easier, even in colorless.

Top 10 Colorless, Non-Land, Repeatable Artifact Recursion Cards

  1. Myr Retriever
  2. Scrap Trawler
  3. Trading Post
  4. Junk Diver
  5. Workshop Assistant
  6. Ancestral Statue
  7. Ingenuity Engine
  8. Blood Clock
  9. Umbilicus
  10. Guardians of Koilos

Let's be honest, you're probably already playing most of the Myr Retrievers of the world, along with various ways to keep on bringing them in and out of play. Trading Post is a bit more of a stretch, but it isn't an inclusion you're going to be mad about in a deck where you're typically going to be drowning in mana. What you wouldn't see in your average colorless deck is the twin return-to-hand engines of Blood Clock and Umbilicus. The life loss for your opponents will be fairly negligible, and every once in a while they'll get an extra ETB out of it, but none of that will compare with you returning your Myr Retrievers or The One Ring every turn.

4. Alchemist's Refuge

(39,075 Inclusions, 8% of 505,391 Decks)

If I can be honest, Alchemist's Refuge is one of my all-time favorite cards. Yes, it's a little mana-intensive at pretty much three mana per activation, but the ability to cast anything at sorcery speed while only taking up a land slot is absolutely huge. As for The One Ring, holding up seven mana to cast it at instant speed is a lot, but in general with an Alchemist's Refuge in play, you can just pass turn and hold up all of your lands fairly fearlessly.


3. Vedalken Orrery

(40,237 Inclusions, 2% of 2,273,384 Decks)

Still, if you have the actual deck slot to spare, there's a reason so many are so gung-ho on Vedalken Orrery. Being able to drop a land and say, "Go," as you play the entire game at instant speed leaves you with every option and surprise at your disposal. Getting protection from everything is definitely one of the better things you can do at instant speed, but when you can do it all, Reclamation Sage becomes a two-for-one, Hammer of Nazahn is a combat trick that leads to more combat tricks, The Meathook Massacre is a catered board wipe you can engineer into a combat step, Narset, Parter of Veils is even meaner than usual, and you can cast your Treasure Cruise instead of losing it the next time you put a Wheel of Fortune on the stack (actually you need to do that in the reverse order). In short, Vedalken Orrery is a four-mana do-nothing effect that has quite the effect.


2. Shimmer Myr

(47,621 Inclusions, 2% of 2,273,384 Decks)

Shimmer Myr is still three mana as opposed to four, for a fifth of the effect. That might not sound like it's a particularly good deal, but efficiency is efficiency. The more apt comparison these days, rather than Vedalken Orrery, is Liberator, Urza's Battlethopter. In short, it's coming for Shimmer Myr's crown, and it's not doing it slowly. The only part of Liberator that isn't strictly better than our Myr friend is the fact that it's legendary. It can also cast itself at instant speed, it flies where Shimmer Myr walks, it lets you cast colorless spells in addition to artifacts, and it pumps itself with every spell, making the fact that it starts with one less power pretty dang moot. There will be, of course, several decks that will play both cards, but there's really no question which one should actually be on top here.


1. Leyline of Anticipation

(63,966 Inclusions, 6% of 1,122,871 Decks)

Josh Lee Kwai may be famous for loving Vedalken Orrery, but even he freely admits that he'd rather be playing Leyline of Anticipation if he's in blue. For the same four-mana cost, you can roll the dice to come up with your 7% chance of starting the game at instant speed, at no cost at all! That doesn't seem like a hard choice, if you're capable.

Honorable Mentions

Alongside the previously discussed commanders perfect for this ridiculous strategy, Elsha of the Infinite and Renari, Merchant of Marvels, there are still a few cards that we haven't discussed, although they're admittedly outside of the command zone (and therefore require a bit more planning).

None requires more planning than Primeval Spawn, a thirteen-mana monstrosity that can get you The One Ring cast for free at instant speed, provided you can kill it at instant speed. That might be more worth doing if you could actually Reanimate the thing, but alas. Audacious Swap is a more expensive, worse Chaos Warp that you can do twice if you sacrifice a creature, but does say "cast" instead of "put onto the battlefield", and therefore allows you to try and get a couple bites at the apple. The only one of these leftovers that might actually be worth pursuing this ridiculous idea in serious fashion is Unpredictable Cyclone. There's no shortage of artifacts to Cycle, and while you can still stack the top of your deck to grab The One Ring in planned fashion, it's probably easier to just start spinning the wheel furiously as the sword begins to descend on you. After all, an Angel of the Ruins or a Glassdust Hulk could turn the tide of battle as well!

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?

Look, there's no question that this week's prompt is a dumb idea, and that absolutely no one actually interested in winning a game of Magic should pursue it, but Commander isn't always about winning! Heck, even in Competitive EDH, you're aiming for a win percentage in the 30s, and probably settling for 25% anyhow!

So, with that in mind:

Finally, what do you think of the idea of The One Ring at instant speed? How much is the element of surprise worth when it comes to other players expending resources, as opposed to you just playing it down as normal and being immune to whatever's coming anyhow?

Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at The One Table.

Doug has been an avid Magic player since Fallen Empires, when his older brother traded him some epic blue Homarids for all of his Islands. As for Commander, he's been playing since 2010, when he started off by making a two-player oriented G/R Land Destruction deck. Nailed it. In his spare time when he's not playing Magic, writing about Magic or doing his day job, he runs a YouTube channel or two, keeps up a College Football Computer Poll, and is attempting to gif every scene of the Star Wars prequels.

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